West Indian paceman Shannon Gabriel returned the 34th best Test match bowling figures of all time to deny Sri Lanka a chance to level the series.
Gabriel is the only current Test bowler to have taken 13 wickets or more in a Test match, although his wicket returns in recent Tests have been solid but far from spectacular. He took 2-48 and 2-52 in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Port of Spain, preceded by 4-119 and 2-52 against New Zealand, meaning that he failed to take more than two wickets in an innings in his previous four Tests.
Gabriel took 3-60 on his Test debut at Lord’s in the first innings in May 2012, but had to wait until his 22nd Test for his first five-for, taking 5-96 against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in October 2016. In the return series at home against Pakistan, Gabriel took his then-best match figures of 4-81 in the first innings, followed by 5-11 to skittle Pakistan out for 81 and power the West Indies to a 106-run win at Bridgetown.
His only other five-wicket hauls came in the second Test against Sri Lanka, where he returned his historic match figures of 5-59 and 8-62 at Gros Islet, near the northern tip of the island of Saint Lucia. It was only the third time in the last 23 years that a West Indies bowler has taken five wickets in each innings of a Test.
‘It’s a great feeling. 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,’ said Gabriel after the match. ‘I was prepared well for this series, getting myself fit. As long as you get wickets, pains and aches go away. Anything other than a loss is good. We can take plenty of positives from this Test.’
Gabriel’s dominant bowling display was highlighted by the fact that he bowled three batsmen, trapped three lbw, had two caught by wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich while three were caught in the slips and another at gully.
However, he failed to dismiss Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal in either innings. The match will also be remembered for Chandimal being charged by the ICC with ball-tampering, a charge he is contesting.
Best Test match figures by West Indian bowlers
|MA Holding||53.4||15||149||14||2.77||England||12 Aug 1976|
|CA Walsh||36||15||55||13||1.52||New Zealand||10 Feb 1995|
|ST Gabriel||36.4||10||121||13||3.3||Sri Lanka||14 Jun 2018|
Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images