Oshane Thomas shows West Indies a glimpse of the future


Oshane Thomas has a habit. The 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 team Rangpur Riders. On Sunday, it made a big impression on India’s stand-in T20I captain Rohit Sharma, who was stunned by a 147kph in swinger.

On a sticky Kolkata evening, India seemed assured of victory, set a target of just 110. But on an Eden Gardens pitch where dew made the ball skid on much more than usual, Thomas cleaned up India’s openers. He forced Rohit 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.

Dinesh Karthik and Krunal Pandya repaired the early damage, but Thomas had done enough to earn Rohit’s praise. “Oshane is a really exciting talent without doubt,” Rohit 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’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.”

At 21, Thomas is the youngest fast bowler in the West Indies squad. He has had a very short career so far. But within that time, he has shown plenty of promise. He got into the West Indies team after finishing CPL 2018 as the tournament’s highest wicket-taker among fast bowlers, and second-highest overall behind the leg spinner Fawad Ahmed.

More than just the number of wickets he’s taken, it’s the quality of batsmen he has rattled. In last year’s CPL, he 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. How many other bowlers in world cricket can stake that claim?

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

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 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.

Kohli and Rohit would eventually settle down and eventually steer India to a breezy nine-wicket win. Had Holder held on, and had Thomas not overstepped, things might have been rather different.

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