North Sound, Antigua – Kieran Powell showed his class with a high-quality maiden Test century on Friday, as the West Indies took control over New Zealand on the third day of the first Digicel Test.
The 22-year-old left-hander hit a stroke-filled 134 which formed part of the foundation as West Indies closed the day on 442-6 – an overall lead of 91 on first innings with two days left. He featured in a record opening stand of 254 with Chris Gayle, who made a brilliant 150 on his return to the Test match arena.
The West Indies also got solid performances from Assad Fudadin, 55, his maiden half-century in Test cricket; and Narsingh Deonarine, who will resume on 54 on Saturday.
Powell started the day in 58 not out and became the first graduate the Sagicor High Performance Centre to make a Test century. He reached the landmark as he pulled a short, rising delivery from Neil Wagner through backward square leg for his 16th boundary. Overall he batted for over six hours, faced 288 balls and hit 22 fours and a six. He was dismissed in the same over he cracked three consecutive boundaries off left-arm pacer Wagner.
The knock was Powell’s third first-class century in the last two months – it followed 108 for West Indies against England Lions in early May and 139 for West Indies A against India A last month. Speaking after the day’s play he was pleased with his performance, but blamed his dismissal on a bit of poor judgment at the time. He also said the time spent at the Sagicor HPC was crucial to his overall development.
“Obviously I’m delighted to get my first Test century. I felt I played really well and when I saw the ball going to the boundary I couldn’t help but jump for joy. It felt really good and it’s a moment to cherish. To get 100 runs in a Test match is something special,” said Powell.
“I started slowly and I just supported Chris and watched on as he played his natural game. I told myself all I had to do is play it the way I know it and just try to build the lead of the team.”
Powell added: “I felt confident throughout my innings and I knew I was hitting the ball very well. I have worked on my shot selection and I was happy with the way my bat was coming down and my ability to hit the ball down the ground. I hit three fours in the over I got out … I won’t say I was carried away, I think I chose the wrong ball to hit at that stage.”
Powell first came to prominence as a 13-year-old when he made his national debut for Nevis in the Leeward Islands tournament. He graduated to the West Indies Indies Under-19 team and entered the Sagicor HPC in 2010. He made his Test debut a year ago against India at Windsor Park in Dominica.
“The time at the Sagicor HPC has totally changed my game. It has been a massive boost to my cricket. It has helped me with both the technical side and mental side of my game. It has helped to refine my game and overall I am now a calmer person. A lot of things I developed there I put into place, and I was able to assess the situation and go about the business of building an innings,” Powell said.
“There was a time I used to go in and look to play all the shots and see how many I could get. All that has changed now. I’m more settled and aware of my role. I look back at the time I spent at the Sagicor HPC and realise the changes I made in my game. I can truly say I learned a lot in the two years there and I will look to kick on and get bigger scores for the West Indies.”