Gabriel rocks again……

West Indies came out hard in the series opener and won the Test by a whopping margin of an innings and 219 runs. Bangladesh had no answers to West Indies seamers and looked bereft of oomph in both the innings. They were cleaned up for their lowest ever Test total of 43 in the first innings and 144 in the second. Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel wreaked havoc with the ball in two innings respectively and punched above their weight to make a mockery of Bangladesh’s batting. Bangladesh only lasted for a mere 354 deliveries in the entire Test, which speaks about the kind of impact West Indies seamers had in the game.

Roach was the wrecker-in-chief in the first innings, but a calf injury didn’t allow him to inflict more damage, he wrapped up Bangladesh’s top and middle-order in no time. In the first innings, Bangladesh were left reeling at 18 for 5 after which, he walked off the field. Shannon Gabriel remained wicketless in the first innings, but the job was done by other seamers.

If the first innings was all about Roach’s impact, the second revolved around Gabriel’s master-class. He had a prolific run in the home series against Sri Lanka, and a lot was expected from him in this Test as well. After being wicketless in the first innings, it was only about time when the lanky bowler rediscovered his rhythm and chipped crucial wickets. Roach didn’t come out to bowl in the second innings, which only added pressure on the West Indies bowlers. Although West Indies had a massive lead to their name, but it was important to chip 10 more wickets in order to win the game.

Gabriel steamed in and led the bowling attack with unmatched confidence. His magic left Bangladesh struggling at 50 for 6 in which he accounted for four wickets. At first, Gabriel got rid of Tamim Iqbal after which he ripped through Tamim Iqbal’s defence to clean him up. West Indies were off to a solid start, but Gabriel wasn’t done yet. Moments later, he got rid of Mushfiqur Rahim and then Shakib Al Hasan to put Bangladesh in all sorts of trouble. Gabriel was well supported by other bowlers as Bangladesh were undone for 144. Gabriel and Roach won the game for West Indies with the new ball, which was outstanding and set the tone for West Indies.

West Indies skipper Jason Holder spoke about Roach and Gabriel and was quoted in a report from ESPNCricinfo saying, “The opening burst by Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach set the tone for us, and I was able to come in and get a few wickets at the end, and obviously Miguel Cummins got three wickets in the first innings as well. It was a clinical performance in the first hour of play and obviously, we set it up quite nicely with the bat, led by Kraigg (Brathwaite). A wonderful hundred, I think it’s his seventh Test match century, and well supported by everybody else who chipped in. I think it was a good opportunity for everybody to get a chance in the middle. Only one of our batsmen missed out, that’s Roston (Chase, who made 2). But hopefully, in Jamaica, he comes to the party.”

Gabriel has developed into an integral part of this West Indies side. He has grown with every outing, and has been a force to be reckoned. With a healthy average of 29.95 in 36 games, Gabriel might not look very intimidating, but his run in the recent times has been awe-inspiring. Since the start of 2017, Gabriel has accounted for 59 wickets at a staggering average of 23.16 with four fifers. Against Sri Lanka, he showed what he is made of and chipped 13 wickets in a game to hog all the headlines.

Holder was pleased with his bowlers’ performance. “Happy overall with the performance. I felt we bowled and batted well in this Test match. We also supported our bowlers in the field. We’re looking forward to the next Test in Jamaica. I expect Bangladesh to come back and come at us pretty hard. It’s just a matter of us being consistent and maintaining the pressure we set on them,” Holder added.

This West Indie side is in search of their lost glory and if individuals step up in this manner, the day is not far away when this side will pose a threat to the top sides in the world. Gabriel and Roach will be the men to watch out for in the remainder of the series, for now, West Indies will be pleased by their dominating performance.

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