Kolkata: Rohit Sharma, who scored a century on his Test debut against the West Indies on Thursday, said that the Eden Gardens has been a special venue for him and familiarity with the pitch here has helped him in building his innings.
"This is where I made my first class (Ranji) debut for Mumbai as well when I started off. If you've noticed, we have won the IPL final here (earlier this year). Also, this was the place where I was given the Mumbai Indians captaincy for the first time," Sharma said.
"The Eden is really special to me. I really love playing here. I got decent amounts of runs here while playing for Mumbai. I hope it turns out to be better tomorrow," Sharma told reporters after his unbeaten 127 in an unbroken 198-run stand with Ravichandran Ashwin (92 batting) put India on course to win the first Test.
The confidence of knowing the Eden wicket at the back of his hand really helped Sharma who said it's always a tricky wicket here as one has to adapt to the conditions.
"The wicket was really slow. It was stopping and coming. Once the ball got older, it was not coming on. You got to hold back and play late. I was just trying to do that. Playing on the rise was not an ideal option on this wicket. I just held back a bit and used their pace to advantage.
"It's not an easy wicket. The odd balls were bouncing and turning. You got to plan to play on this wicket. They were bowling quite well when we lost five early wickets. I just wanted to be there and build partnership. I have played Ranji for so many years. I know what it is like in the middle," he said. (Stats)
"I got to respect (their attack) and they were bowling in tandem. We needed to stick together. Once we get in, we know we can capitalise later and when the bowlers get tired, and that's what happened at the end of the day," he added. (Day 2 in pictures)
Asked about the morning session when India were tottering at 83/5 with three crucial wickets in four runs, Sharma said it was about biding the time in the middle.
"They were varying their pace really well. When myself and MS (Dhoni) were batting, runs were not coming easily. We wanted to negotiate the few overs and then capitalise. I knew about the outfield exactly. It's very fast. We wanted to play normal cricket," he said. (Day 2 highlights)
On his unbroken partnership with Ashwin, he said, "Ashwin and I had a good partnership there. At Eden Gardens, if you just can manage those initial overs thereafter it becomes, I would not say easy, a lot better for scoring options. It really worked well for us."
Despite taking a 120-run lead, Sharma said India would like to get more runs.
"It was a really important partnership in terms of finishing the day where we are today. We lost early wickets then I had a good partnership with MS (Dhoni). Then me and Ashwin just decided not to think too much about what they're doing. We just wanted to believe whatever we want to do. Every run is important on this wicket. As many runs we can get tomorrow will be good for us."
Asked whether he would dedicate the knock to Sachin Tendulkar who had earlier handed him the coveted Test cap, Sharma said, "I'm still batting. It's difficult for me to say whom to dedicate. Let's see what happens tomorrow. the more the lead, the better for us as of now. If our bowlers do well then we may not have to bat again for the second time. The wicket will deteriorate further when we come to bat in the second innings. Plan is to bat and extend our lead as much as possible." (Also read: 'Century is valuable for the team')