Come auction time and don’t be surprised if there’s a scramble among the IPL franchises to pick Oshane Thomas. The game’s shortest format is not just about the batsmen’s prowess, it is also about a fast bowler’s pace and accuracy.
On a fast and bouncy Eden Gardens, Thomas showed glimpses of his breakneck speed that once sent Chris Gayle scurrying for cover in the Caribbean Premier League.
India needed to chase 110, and it was thought to be a mismatch of sorts. But Thomas breathed life into a contest that had seemed to lack the thrill and uncertainty generally associated with this format.
Thomas and Carlos Brathwaite’s effort though couldn’t prevent India from taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Dinesh Karthik anchored the chase with a controlled 31 not out off 34 balls and debutant Krunal Pandya’s enterprising 21 not out off nine balls saw India through. Pandya’s winning runs fetched India a five-wicket victory with 13 balls remaining.
Karthik, who kept wickets in the absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, played the role of a finisher to perfection. He never buckled under pressure and paced his innings according to the situation.
However, there wasn’t a houseful at the Eden as the turnout on Sunday was only 42,000-odd. Thomas’s fiery spell though won’t be forgotten in a hurry. The 21-year-old Jamaican, who made his ODI debut in Guwahati and clocked an average speed of 147kmph in his first over, nearly took the wind out of India’s sail in the opening T20I on Sunday.
Generating bounce and pace, he induced a faint inside edge from Rohit Sharma in the first over, which only got confirmed via replays, and then broke through Shikhar Dhawan’s defence at 147 kmph in the next to send ripples through India’s batting.
Carlos Brathwaite provided the perfect support with a disciplined effort that dried up the run-rate. The West Indies captain’s 4-1-11-2 nearly put the Indians in the dock but it was the lack of back-up bowlers in their line-up that helped India escape.
Both the captains seemed wary of the dew factor at the toss. The effect wasn’t to be felt though, considering the paltry total. Man of the Match Kuldeep Yadav should take a bulk of the credit for managing to restrict West Indies to 109 for eight. At his ‘home’ ground, the Kolkata Knight Riders wrist spinner put the skids on the run rate.
He showed glimpses of a new faster delivery he has been working on in the nets. The surprise ball dismissed Darren Bravo.
Put into bat, the world champions floundered from the start. They included three debutants in their XI — Thomas, Fabian Allen, and Khari Pierre — but that hardly did much to change their fortunes.
They never got going, after being put in, mainly due to lack of discipline on the part of their batsmen. Pandya impressed and claimed his maiden International wicket when he dismissed Mumbai Indians teammate Kieron Pollard. He ended with figures of 4-0-15-1.
It was mainly due to Allen’s 27 off 20 balls and Keemo Paul’s 15 not out off 13 that they managed to cross the 100-run mark.
But that proved to be too little in the end.