Kingstown, St. Vincent: India A were reeling at 57 for 4 at stumps on the third day of the second unofficial four-day Test, chasing a 220-run victory target against West Indies A here at Amos Vale. India lost all their top-order batsmen, including the in-form skipper Cheteshwar Pujara, to left-arm seamer Delorn Johnson who produced a lethal burst of bowling. The 23-year-old left the visitors still needing 163 for victory on the final day on Tuesday. India's hopes now rest on the two batsmen at the crease, Rohit Sharma (8) and Manoj Tiwari (15).
West Indies, resuming at six without loss, managed to reach 204 thanks to left-hander Jonathan Carter (74) and Jamaican Donovan Pagon (67) as left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar troubled the batsmen to claim six wickets for 67 in 24 overs.
The pair rescued the hosts' innings with an 86-run, sixth-wicket stand when West Indies were rocking at 81 for five soon after lunch with only two other batsmen, Kraigg Braithwaite (21) and Kyle Corbin, getting into double figures. While Carter faced 97 balls and hit six fours, Pagon cracked four fours and four sixes off a mere 72 balls.
The hosts had another bumpy start as opener Justin Guillen (6) clipped to be caught at mid-wicket off seamer Shami Ahmed and Corbin followed soon (36 for 2). Darekar then prized out the next three batsmen to leave the innings in turmoil.
Nkrumah Bonner missed a straight one and was lbw before opener Kraigg Brathwaite's long vigil ended when he was taken at first slip by Rohit Sharma just after lunch, following a two-and-a-half hour stay at the crease. When wicketkeeper-batsman Devon Thomas was trapped lbw by an arm ball without scoring, West Indies A seemed on the brink of collapse until Carter and Pagon joined forces.
Set 220 to win, India A were in early trouble when Ajinkya Rahane, switching positions with opener Shikhar Dhawan, played back to one from Johnson that kept low and was bowled for five (13 for 1).
Johnson then beat Dhawan's ambitious drive to bowl the left-hander for eight and followed it up to get the other out-of-form opener Abhinav Mukund leg before for eight. Johnson produced another beauty to get skipper Cheteshwar Pujara nick an in-swinger behind for one to leave India reeling at 30 for 4. Rohit and Manoj then saw the day through without any more hiccups.
West Indies A: 217 (Kraigg Brathwaite 66, Veerasammy Permaul 36; Shami Ahmed 4 for 48, Ashok Dinda 2 for 25, Rohit Sharma 2 for 31)and 204 (Jonathan Carter 74, Donovan Pagon 67, Kraigg Brathwaite 21; Akshay Darekar 6 for 67)
India A: 202 (Cheteshwar Pujara 67, Rahul Sharma 30, Manoj Tiwary 23, Wriddhiman Saha 20; Veerasammy Permaul 5 for 58, Delorn Johnson 2 for 18) and 57 for 4 (Delorn Johnson 4 for 20)