Playing with a gusto suggesting that their lives were on the line, India "A" staged a dramatic post-tea fightback against West Indies "B" at Kensington Oval yesterday to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the semifinals of the Carib Beer International Challenge.

After suffering a collapse in the first half of the day to concede a first innings lead of 92, India "A" sent the West Indies Under-23s tumbling to 115 for seven on a day in which they had to endure the disappointment of their senior side receiving a mauling in the World Cup final.

At the close, the West Indies "B" led by 207 to set the stage for an exciting finish today, the final day, when there will be no admission charge to the ground.

On a pitch with some low bounce, the enthusiastic Indians consistently bowled between wicket and wicket, repeatedly bellowed raucous appeals and were also helped by aggressive strokes from the West Indies "B" team's three leading batsmen this season.

Hometown boys Patrick Browne and Martin Nurse both went by the lbw route for 16 when they were pinned onto the back foot.

The dismissal of Nurse to the accurate medium-pacer Jai Yadav left the West Indies "B" 65 for three at the refreshment break at 4 p.m. and triggered the drama that followed in the next 40 minutes.

Five wickets fell for 24, among them the in-form trio of Narsingh Deonarine, Aneil Kanhai and Carlton Baugh, to strokes that might have earned them a harsh word from team management.

Deonarine, the impressive century-maker of the first innings, attempted to lift leg-spinner Amit Mishra over mid-wicket, but Connor Williams made tremendous ground in running back to haul in the catch a few feet in front of the Eric Inniss Stand.

Baugh, who has attracted attention this season with a century and five half-centuries, attacked the bowling from the time he came out. He smashed two fours, but then edged a big drive to the keeper off Mishra.

Kanhai's dismissal was simply atrocious. The big left-hander, one of nine batsman in the tournament with 500 runs, missed an inexcusable cross-batted shot against Yadav and was bowled.

It was now 89 for seven, but Lorenzo Ingram and Jason Bennett survived the next 50 minutes to prevent a complete collapse.

Earlier, Bennett achieved another five-wicket haul to help West Indies "B" dismiss India "A" for 296 after they resumed on 210 for three in response to 388.

After eight minutes, the 20-year-old Barbadian fast bowler removed Gautam Ghambir, who added only one to his overnight 107, and bowled captain Ajay Ratra for 38.

Fellow fast bowler Andrew Richardson grabbed three wickets and off-spinner Deonarine claimed two as India "A" laboured in adding only 41 runs in the first session.