West Indies new fast bowling sensation

West Indies’ Oshane Thomas celebrates the dismissal of India’s Shikhar Dhawan during the fifth and last One-Day International cricket match between India and West Indies in Thiruvananthapuram, India, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018.
Associated Press / Aijaz Rahi

West Indies new fast bowling sensation Jamaican Oshane Thomas is described as already having “a habit” — a habit of turning heads with his fierce pace.

“It has already hooked Chris Gayle, who picked him for Jamaica Tallawahs, when he was 19, and Tom Moody, who has signed him up for his BPL (Bangladesh Premier League) team Rangpur Riders,” reported ESPNcricinfo on Sunday, stating that Thomas “made a big impression on India’s stand-in T20I (Twenty20 International) captain Rohit Sharma, who was stunned by a 147kph in-swinger.”

On a sticky Kolkata evening on Sunday, ESPNcricinfo said India seemed assured of victory, with just a target of 110 against the West Indies in the first T20I.

“But on an Eden Gardens pitch, where dew made the ball skid on much more than usual, Thomas cleaned up India’s openers,” ESPNcricinfo said. “He forced Rohit (Sharma) to inside-edge to the keeper before flattening the middle stump of Shikhar Dhawan, his bunny on this tour, as he left a gap between bat and pad while looking to drive one that swung back into him.”

Even while Dinesh Karthik and Krunal Pandya repaired the early damage, Thomas had done enough to earn Sharma’s praise, according to ESPNcricinfo.

“Oshane is a really exciting talent without doubt,” Sharma said at the post-match presentation. “He’s got good height, plus that jump he takes.

“If he bowls in the right areas, it won’t be easy for any batsman in the world to counter that,” he added. “He’s really talented, and he also has the advantage of height, which gives him the extra edge. I wish him the best in the future.”

Thomas, 21, is the youngest fast bowler in the West Indies team.

“He has had a very short career so far, but, within that time, he has shown plenty of promise,” ESPNcricinfo said. “He got into the West Indies team after finishing CPL (Caribbean Premier League) 2018 as the tournament’s highest wicket-taker among fast bowlers, and second-highest overall behind the leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed.”

But, more than just the number of wickets he’s taken, it’s the quality of batsmen he has rattled, ESPNcricinfo said.

In last year’s CPL, for example, it said Thomas bowled Gayle — who had moved to St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots — with a 150kph yorker.

“And on this tour, he has continually troubled India’s top three,” ESPNcricinfo said. “How many other bowlers in world cricket can stake that claim?”

It said Thomas has dismissed Dhawan, bowled each time, three times on this tour. Twice in the ODI series, Dhawan inside-edged Thomas while playing with an angled bat, misjudging the pace off the surface.

ESPNcricinfo said India’s regular captain, Virat Kohli, rarely plays an false shot; and yet, in the fifth ODI in Thiruvananthapuram, “Kohli sparred uncertainly at a nasty lifter from Thomas and edged to first slip, where Jason Holder failed to hold on to the chance.

“A few overs later, Rohit (Sharma) edged one that left him off the pitch, into Shai Hope’s gloves, only for the umpire’s signal of no-ball to halt Thomas’ celebrations,” it said.

On his ODI debut in Guwahati, ESPNCricinfo said Thomas clocked 147kph, 147kph, 140kph, 149kph, 147kph and 147kph in his first over.

“That speed comes from his run-up, which accelerates gradually as he approaches the crease, and a big jump just before his delivery stride,” it said. “That jump, coupled with his height, gives him bounce to go with his pace, and this combination can unsettle any batsman, particularly early on while still coming to grips with the pace of the surface.”

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