The 2nd test saw two stand out performances with the ball from what on paper and statistics looked unlikely sources in Shannon Gabriel and Lahiru Kumara for West Indies and Sri Lanka. Both managed to take the first innings market with a 5 and 4 wicket hauls respectively. Gabriel has always looked a bowler who potentially has all the attributes to unsettle any batsman in the world He is tall, bowls at very good pace and with hostility when he gets it right. It has never quite clicked for him for one reason or another and 6 years after his test debut takes his wicket at higher than 30 runs per wicket and always been in and out of the side.
Kumara at 21 years of age has a much smaller sample size but the raw numbers of 11 tests played for Sri Lanka and an average of over 40 runs per wicket would not really get anyone very excited on his record alone and not make him a very attractive proposition in the top bowler market.
Aside from reasonably modest returns from their international careers they also share a rare ability to bowl at pace that is increasingly rare in the game due to various reasons ranging from the amount of cricket played to unhelpful pitches for out and out pace bowlers. The first test match of the series saw both bowl with pace and hostility and trouble two batting line ups who are lacking world class players at the highest level. Gabriel really began to show the quality that many viewers always suspected he was capable of and bowled excellently and despite not getting his rewards looked a bowler who could trouble Sri Lanka with his pace and bounce. Sri Lanka were soundly beaten in the first test and most of the focus was on the poor batting that cost them the game and overlooked the exciting prospect that Kumara looked, bowling with a cutting edge and threat that none of the other Sri Lankans showed despite his poor numbers from the start of his test career.
The 2nd test match was played at St Lucia a ground which has been well known for offering pace and bounce and assistance to the quicker bowlers. It was this wicket, coupled with two genuine fast bowlers who looked in fine form and bowling with good pace and hostility on an unhelpful wicket that allowed a spot of value over the bookmakers. The pricing up of the markets saw the Sri Lankan bowling market have left arm spinner Herath as firm favourite due to having over 400 wickets to his name and Kumara rated an outsider with his indifferent start to his test career. The West Indian market saw Gabriel rated behind his more experienced colleagues in Roach and Bishoo.
It was priced up on long term statistics of performances from the bowlers involved in the game and offered an opportunity to viewers of the first test and the performances of Gabriel and Kumara and the knowledge that the 2nd test match would be tailored to their style of bowling against vulnerable batting lines ups that allowed both players to be backed at inflated odds for this specific match on this specific pitch at this specific time.
The match itself saw Sri Lanka not even select market favourite Herath with conditions not in his favour and allowing their young Sri Lankan quick Kumara every opportunity to continue his progress from the first match and see him duly oblige with 4 of the first innings wickets to be their leading wicket taker. Gabriel went one better for the West Indies with their captain Jason Holder keen to utilise an in form and dangerous Gabriel with the new ball and use him more regularly than he usually would on a pitch suited for his fast bowler who managed to take 5 of the first innings wickets for the honours.
This particular game was a good example that raw numbers for players do not always tell the full or sometimes most accurate picture of how a market may go with the evidence of the eye sometimes adding equally and sometimes more than just the figures on a bowler average and also unique playing conditions can favour certain players more than other regardless of their long-term results.
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