Gabriel's 'preparation' ahead of SL Tests pays off

The touring Sri Lankan party would be left ruing a missed opportunity at the second Test in Gros Islet having come very close to winning the contest, but for bad weather. However, there’s something else they might as well rue and that is the lost time – two hours – on the third day when they protested the ball tampering charges. There’s more, they might as well have rued facing Shannon Gabriel at the peak of his powers as he finished with match figures of 13 for 121 – the third best by a West Indian, and the best at home. He also bagged his 100th wicket in Tests in the process.

The 30-year-old West Indian fast bowler has for long threatened to be a very dangerous proposition but his blow hot, blow cold performances have often made batsmen not take him too seriously. At Gros Islet though, he was a man possessed and despite being robbed off more wickets thanks to no-balls bowled by him, he managed to finish with as many as 13 scalps. “It’s a great feeling,” Gabriel said after the match. “If someone told me, ‘Shannon, you’ll play Tests and take 100 wickets’, I would’ve told him, ‘you’re crazy!’ I’d like to thank family and friends for supporting me.

“I was prepared well for this series, getting myself fit. As long as you get wickets, pains and aches go away. I was supported well by Kemar (Roach), he was unlucky. Miguel Cummins kept coming at the batsmen. (Jason) Holder was also very good. Anything other than a loss is good. We can take plenty of positives from this Test.”

There were several no balls bowled by the hosts but the two most notable ones being the ones bowled by the Man of the Match Gabriel, who picked up wickets on those only to be denied eventually. Skipper Jason Holder didn’t turn a deaf ear to it and emphasised on the need to cut out those silly mistakes in as early as the next Test. “Getting wickets off no-balls is a concern, something we need to pay attention to.We were better overall, were a lot more behind the line. But it hasn’t gone unnoticed,” the skipper remarked.

Holder also called for consistency and felt that his team wasn’t as disciplined as it was required to win a game. “We played reasonable cricket, probably not at our best,” he said. “We weren’t as consistent and disciplined as we should have been. They played well. All in all, a decent effort, I thought we were more clinical in Trinidad.”

On the other hand, Holder’s opposite number, Dinesh Chandimal lauded his boys for the fight they showed and mentioned that if not for the bad weather, his team had a chance of closing out the game. “I’m really happy with the way we played through the five days, we played outstanding cricket. Weather permitting, there was a chance, but pleased overall,” Chandimal noted.

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