Although competition is slim for the honour, this was far and away the West Indians' best day on tour as Kieran Powell
led a determined batting effort to keep England Lions in the field and facing the prospect of a tricky final-day run chase. Powell, who hit just his second first-class hundred, put on century partnerships with Darren Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul as the visitors closed 183 ahead.
There were low expectations when they resumed on 28 for 3, still 166 behind, but the batsmen started to learn from their mistakes of the first innings in a performance that offered hope for a competitive Test series when coupled with their strong bowling attack. If Kemar Roach, Fidel Edwards and Ravi Rampaul can be given decent totals to bowl at West Indies could provide stern opposition and at least now a few of their batsmen will enter the series with runs under the belt.
Powell, a tall left-hander from Nevis who has played six Tests and lived in the UK for two years while attending Millfield School, was given a life early in the day on 17 when he edged low to a wide third slip where Nick Compton put down a tough chance to his right. He often kept the slips interested but batsmen deserve a little luck when they show application in a season where the ball has dominated. His scoring rate increased during the second half of his innings as he milked the spinners, especially Samit Patel whose reputation was not enhanced during his 20 overs, ahead of the second new ball.
Powell also used his feet to drive Joe Root for a straight six and reached his hundred from 217 balls with a slog-sweep off Patel. However, it was spin that ended his stay when he tried to force Patel off the back foot through the off side shortly before the new ball became available. It had been an innings that assured him an opening berth for the Lord's Test and means at least one of West Indies' top three will go into the match with a substantial score to their name.
The Lions had opportunities to make earlier inroads but were not at their best in the field. Along with Powell's let-off, Bravo was missed twice; a regulation chance in the gully on 19 by Root and a tougher chance to Ian Bell at slip against Patel on 51. However, between the lives both batsmen played some pleasing shots especially through their favoured off side and Bravo went to his second fifty of the match with a lofted straight drive off Patel.
Jack Brooks, who has impressed throughout, broke the fourth-wicket stand when he bowled Bravo round his legs with a helping hand from the batsman, who got an edge into his thigh pad. Chanderpaul, though, rarely fails twice in a match and helped Powell take their team into a lead that had appeared an unlikely prospect at the start of the innings. Brooks tested him with a hard-working spell but Chanderpaul, like Powell, did not find many problems against the overs of spin leaving James Taylor to perhaps rue the absence of a specialist slow bowler for the first time in the game.
Chanderpaul went to his half-century from 106 balls and was becoming increasingly fluent during the evening session as he regularly pierced the off side between mid-off and cover. His innings came to a surprising end with a piece of misjudgement when he padded up to Stuart Meaker, who had earlier bowled a good spell of reverse swing, at which stage the lead was still under 100.
However, unlike in the first innings the Lions could not hustle through the lower order. Marlon Samuels, who regularly alternates between periods of extreme slow and brisk scoring at the crease, started by reaching 3 off 28 balls before cutting loose with four boundaries in quick succession off Matt Coles and then an onslaught against Jade Dernbach. Samuels and Dernbach had shared a few words on the second day and it was battle rejoined when Samuels took him for 15 in an over including a monstrous stand-and-deliver six over deep midwicket.
Samuels fell to a top-edged pull - not the first West Indian batsman to go in such fashion during the game - when Coles replaced Dernbach and Shane Shillingford gloved a hook down the leg side, but the visitors will have ended the day feeling much better about life even if they are not feeling a great degree warmer just yet.