West Indies A take unbeatable lead
Daren Ganga hit his first century on tour as West Indies A moved into an unassailable position against Lancashire at Liverpool.
With a day to play, the touring side are 451 in front, closing on 361/5. They will surely declare overnight in order to stand a reasonable chance of victory on what is still a good Aigburth pitch.
The West Indian skipper made an unbeaten 139, but his effort was overshadowed by the brilliance of Chris Gayle and the power of Runako Morton. Gayle fell six runs short of a century in a classical innings, with Morton thumping his way to an agricultural 53.
There can be few finer sites in cricket than Gayle at his best. Still not perfect in defence, his attacking strokes are played with a rare elegance. The left-handed opener sent the ball to the boundary 17 times, and was typically strong through the covers.
Morton, on the other hand, just thumps the ball. Clearly gifted, the right-hander hit six fours and two sixes, seizing upon an inexperienced Lancashire attack.
Ganga had hit only one half-century on tour before today. He has neither the style of Gayle nor the clout of Morton, but is a composed cricketer. Solid in defence, he pushed singles, rotating the strike and dispatched half-volleys with aplomb.
After resuming on 38-0, the West Indians never looked like losing control. Mike Smethurst was particularly expensive as Gayle scored at every opportunity. Seamer James Anderson eventually induced a mistake from the left-handed Jamaican to give Smethurst a regulation catch.
Morton was sent in early, and looked to force the pace. He found the boundary regularly, and the visitors looked well set to declare before the close. The Nevis-born 23-year-old reached his fifty from his 84th ball, with seven fours and two sixes. Morton fell soon after, giving occasional seamer Ryan Driver his sixth wicket of the match.
Driver struck again to remove Ryan Hinds cheaply as Ganga completed his ton at the other end. Dwayne Bravo was run out, failing to make an impact. Devon Smith (17) looked good before becoming Smethurst's first victim.
Ganga, along with Keith Hibbert (15 not out) batted out the day. Ganga opened up towards the end of the day, and has18 fours and a six to show for his all-day vigil. Tomorrow, the bowlers will take over as West Indies A strive for a confidence-boosting victory.