March 5, 2020, 12:28 p.m.
A fantastic night for the West Indies in Pallekele ended in a comfortable win. A 25 run victory for Kieron Pollard and his charges got the series off to a cracking start. The highlight of the night, undoubtedly, was the performance of young seamer Oshane Thomas. The Jamaican quick took 5-28 in just three overs, steamrollering the top order of the Sri Lankan line-up, and all but ensuring victory for the tourists in what could have been a tight contest.
It was a remarkable spell from Thomas. Clocking an average speed of 142kph across his three overs – even with the inclusion of a 125kph slower ball – shows the extent of his pace and power. He was comfortably the quickest bowler on show in the match, well ahead of Sheldon Cottrell, the next quickest but averaging only 133kph. It came at the expense of swing (the 0.39 degrees Thomas averaged was the least of any bowler in the match) and seam (the 0.35 degrees he averaged was also the least of any bowler in the match), but when you’re thundering in at that pace, sometimes lateral movement is not strictly necessary. So it was last night in Pallekele.
Away from the confines of the match, Thomas’ performance was historic. No West Indies player has ever taken more wickets in a T20I match, and Thomas becomes only the third to take a five-wicket haul in the format. The others, Darren Sammy’s 5-26 against Zimbabwe and Keemo Paul’s 5-15 against Bangladesh, whilst undoubtedly very impressive, came in fewer deliveries; both of them bowled a fourth over, whilst Thomas was, remarkably, restricted to just the three overs. He’s also the only West Indian to take three wickets in a single over in T20Is.
Indeed, Thomas is in an almost unique position in this light as well. In T20I history, only eight players have taken five-wicket hauls whilst bowling three overs or less in a single match. Only two other men (Rashid Khan and Umar Gul) have done it whilst appearing for a Test nation. To be so destructive, in such a short period of time, is brutal and historic.
Of course, all five of Thomas’ wickets came in the Powerplay – no mean feat. Nobody has ever taken more then five wickets in the Powerplay, and the only man in history to take five in a T20I Powerplay is Lasith Malinga. Not bad company for the big Jamaican.
On top of all this, it’s a fantastic time for Thomas to find form. With the T20 World Cup round the corner, and two of the seamer berths very much up for grabs, putting in a genuinely match-winning performance with the ball is about as clear a message as you can send to the selectors.