Powell century puts West Indies A ahead
West Indies A 320 for 8 (Powell 139, Thomas 50, Saxena 3-55) lead India A 230 (Saxena 61, Bishoo 3-40, Carter 3-67) by 90 runs
Kieran Powell, fresh from a tough Test tour of England, hit his highest first-class score of 139 as West Indies A took a 90-run lead over India A in the series-deciding third unofficial Test in St Lucia. Resuming on his overnight score of 16, Powell batted almost till stumps on day two, and struck ten fours and three sixes in an innings that lasted nearly seven hours.
Powell's century was the first in a series that has been difficult for batsmen on both sides and took him past India A captain Cheteshwar Pujara's match-winning unbeaten 96 in the first unofficial Test. Powell was the common factor in several key partnerships with the middle order as he added 54 for the second wicket with Kyle Corbin, 51 for the third with Nkrumah Bonner, 67 for the fifth with Donovan Pagon and 78 for the sixth with Devon Thomas, who was the second-highest scorer in the innings with 50.
Jalaj Saxena, the Madhya Pradesh allrounder, picked up three wickets with his offspin while fast bowlers Shami Ahmed and Parvinder Awana had two strikes each. But West Indies A were able to build partnerships throughout the day, apart from when Saxena sent back Bonner and Jonathan Carter off successive deliveries to reduce the hosts to 142 for 4.
India A struck in the second over of the day when Awana had Kraigg Brathwaite edging an outswinger to the wicketkeeper. But Powell and Corbin hit back aggressively in a breezy stand which ended when Corbin charged out only to be stumped off left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar. The spinners were able to get through some tight overs after Corbin's departure. Saxena, finding some turn and bounce, had Bonner caught at short leg and trapped Carter in front first ball with a straight delivery.
Powell took control, negating the spinners with several lofted straight hits while Pagon played some powerful drives off the fast bowlers. It was Saxena again who ended the stand, catching Pagon off his own bowling. The keeper Thomas joined Powell and the duo went after the spinners. India A delayed taking the new ball till the 91st over and Powell and Thomas put together the highest partnership of the innings.
When finally taken, the new ball proved effective immediately, as Ahmed and Awana had Thomas and Veerasammy Permaul edging to the slip cordon. India A ended the day on a positive note when Ahmed had Powell miscuing a pull off a bouncer a couple of overs before stumps. But Powell had ensured that West Indies A held the advantage going into the final two days of the game.
Powell was happy with his effort after having struggled against England with 71 runs in five innings. "Coming out of the tour of England I noticed a few things in my technique which I wanted to iron out, so I was happy I got a lot of time in the middle. That was the most important thing for me," Powell said. "I was able to settle down and play at my pace. My movements, both back and forward, as well as the way I played against the spinners have given me confidence. I had to battle really hard. The Indians did not give us any easy runs. We are now in a good position where we can push for a result."
Powell was disappointed to get out in the closing stages of the day's play. "I was looking to bat through the innings, so I actually wasn't too happy that I got out just before the close. I felt I could go on for much longer, I wanted to come back tomorrow and push the team ahead."