Gros Islet, St. Lucia: India A will be hard put to save the third Test and the series after opener Kieran Powell's gritty century gave West Indies A a crucial 90-run lead with two wickets still intact at the close of play on the second day here Sunday.
With two more days to go in the decisive Test, India's strong top-order batsmen have to regain their form if they have to give themselves any chance of winning or saving the Test, with the series tied 1-1, reports Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
Powell kept himself in the Test calculations, stroking his third first-class hundred and his second in as many months, to lead an impressive West Indies effort at the Beausejour Cricket Stadium. Drafted into the squad after returning home from a disappointing Test tour of England, the attractive left-hander batted superbly to score 139 as West Indies finished the day on 320 for eight.
Resuming the day unbeaten on 16, Powell played with fluency to reach his highest first-class score just before tea. This valuable hundred comes after his century last month against England Lions at Northampton. However, in the Tests, the 22-year-old managed just 71 runs in five innings as West Indies lost the three-Test series 0-2.
He cracked 12 fours and three sixes in a typically dour knock which came off 255 balls and lasted six hours and 46 minutes. Powell reached his half-century just before lunch off 101 balls with four fours and a six - a straight hit off left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar - and brought up his century with a beautiful straight drive off part-time off-spinner Rohit Sharma.
Powell reached the landmark off 172 balls in a shade over four-and-a-half hours, with nine fours and three sixes. Along the way, he anchored several crucial partnerships to keep West Indies on top. He shared 54 runs for the second wicket with Kyle Corbin (26), 51 for the third wicket with Nkrumah Bonner (26) and another 67 for the fifth wicket with Donovan Pagon who scored 30 from 56 balls with five fours.
Powell's best partnership was of 78 runs for the sixth wicket with wicketkeeper Devon Thomas whose fifty required 79 balls in an hour-and-a-half at the crease, and included two fours and two sixes.
Off-spinner Jalaj Saxena was India's best bowler with three for 55 while seamer Parvinder Awana claimed two for 78.
India A: 230 (Jalaj Saxena 61, Cheteshwar Pujara 33, Ajinkya Rahane 32, Manoj Tiwary 32, Wriddhiman Saha 27; Devendra Bishoo 3 for 40, Jonathan Carter 3 for 57)
West Indies A: 320 for 8 (Kieran Powell 139, Devon Thomas 50, Donovan Pagon 30, Kyle Corbin 26; Jalaj Saxena 3 for 55, Parvinder Awana 2 for 78)