West Indies A v England A, 1st Test, Antigua, 3rd day February 27, 2006

England A take command

Cricinfo staff

West Indies A 253 and 35 for 1 (Simmons 19*) need 330 more runs to beat England A 386 and 231 (Dalrymple 53, Clarke 46)

Rikki Clarke and Jamie Dalrymple led a solid batting effort as England A reached a commanding position in the first match at Antigua, leaving West Indies A with an imposing target of 365 with a day to spare. England A will be heartened by the fact that they could put in such an impressive performance without three of their main players, all set to join the England squad on their Indian tour.

England A began the day on a promising note, mopping up the last three West Indian wickets for the addition of just 24 runs. Gareth Batty made his presence felt yet again, following up his vital 75 in the first innings with a five-wicket haul. Sajid Mahmood and Rikki Clarke, the medium-pacers, backed him up with two wickets apiece and helped England A take a healthy 133-run lead.

England A's second innings got off to an indifferent start with the news of Owais Shah, Alastair Cook and James Anderson joining the senior squad in India, one that was languishing in injuries and last minute pull-outs even before the first Test had begun. England A's rearranged batting line-up suffered some early jitters, losing their first four wickets with just 50 on board, but Clarke and Dalrymple bailed them out of trouble an 86-run partnership for the fifth wicket.

Clarke, who crashed five fours in his lively 46, was unlucky to fall short of his half-century, popping a return catch when faced with Marlon Samuels' part-time offspin. Dalrymple (53) and Chris Read (7) fell soon, leaving England A in a spot of bother at 146 for 7, but Kabir Ali wrenched back the initiative with a steady 40 and piloted England past the 200-mark.

His 46-run stand with Alex Wharf, for the ninth wicket, boosted the lead and gave England a great chance to wrap up the game. For West Indies A, Richard Kelly, the medium-pacer from Trinidad finished with three wickets while Dave Mohammad and Samuels, the two spinners, took two wickets apiece.

West Indies A suffered an early jolt in their pursuit of 365, losing Sewnarine Chattergoon for just 4, but Lendl Simmons and Dale Richards warded off any further dangers and took them to 35 for 1 when stumps were drawn.