Hubli: Gautam Gambhir cracked his first century in more than two years as India A came up with a solid batting display to take firm control of the third four-day match against the West Indies A, here at the KSCA Stadium, on Thursday.
Day two saw the host batsmen dominating throughout as out-of-form captain Cheteshwar Pujara also hit a brilliant ton to remain unbeaten on 139 when the stumps were drawn. Giving him company at the other end was Abhishek Nayar on 10.
India A were leading by 66 runs in their first innings with as many as seven wickets remaining.
Despite a poor start as they lost overnight opener VA Jagadeesh (16) early after resuming at 10 for one, India A went on to score 324 runs during the day.
Seeking to make a comeback to the national team, Gambhir, who was woefully out of form for a long time, notched up 123 off 236 balls with the help of 11 boundaries.
The Delhi left-hander, who seemed determined to play a long innings in his quest to force the national selectors to sit up and take note, stroked his way to his 35th first-class century by flicking spinner Ashley Nurse for a boundary. But before that he survived a loud leg before appeal off Nurse.
He was finally dismissed by Narasingh Deonarine after tea.
The opener showed glimpses of his old self, mixing aggression with defence as per the situation. Gambhir was flamboyant in the morning session when he cracked eight scintillating fours, but looked guarded in the second session, as he did not score a single boundary.
Most of his runs after lunch came in singles and twos, reflecting his determination not to fish at any away-going ball, which the West Indies A bowlers had offered him in plenty.
Gambhir got good support from Pujara, who scored his runs after batting watchfully for nearly five hours and hitting 15 exquisite boundaries.
Both were involved in massive 207-run stand for the second wicket, which put India A in a position from where they can win the match and level the three-match series.