BASSETERRE, St Kitts – Fit-again all-rounders Marlon Samuels and Andre Russell have returned to the West Indies Twenty20 side while talisman Chris Gayle has been rested, in a 13-man squad named to face Bangladesh in the three-match Twenty20 International series starting tomorrow night in St Kitts.
The squad, belatedly announced late today and almost 24 hours before the first game at Warner Park starts, sees little change from the unit which contested the Hurricane Relief T20 at Lord’s earlier this year.
Veteran Samuels and fellow Jamaican star Russell have both recovered from injury to take their place in the squad. While Samuel missed the preceding one-day series, Russell played the first game before being forced to miss the remaining two fixtures.
Opener Gayle, who gathered 142 runs in the ODI series, will sit out the rubber that features the last two matches at the Central Broward Regional Park in Fort Lauderdale, United States.
“We have rested Chris Gayle and have added left-arm pacer, Sheldon Cottrell for variety to the bowling attack,” said chief selector Courtney Browne.
“The team reflects the last squad that performed well in the charity match in the UK.”
Cottrell last played a T20 for West Indies on the tour of New Zealand earlier this year and is coming off a stint in the recent Global T20 Canada league where he grabbed 16 wickets for Vancouver Knights.
In fact, most of the squad are coming off outings in the inaugural tournament in Toronto, a tournament which Browne said had provided the ideal environment for the Windies B side players to grab the attention of selectors.
“The strong performances of the young players in the Windies B team during the T20 series in Canada’s Global T20 League this augurs well for our T20 game.”
Captain Carlos Brathwaite said West Indies needed to be relaxed and play with freedom, as they prepare to face the dangerous Bangladesh side.
“We play best when we enjoy ourselves, when we’re having fun, when it’s a relaxed atmosphere which it has been,” Brathwaite said today ahead of tomorrow’s game.
“And once we take that relaxed atmosphere on to the pitch in expressing ourselves, I’m sure we’ll come out on top. Big respect to Bangladesh, they’re a formidable white-ball team as we saw in the just concluded ODI series.
“But we know that once we put our “A” game out, that not much teams can touch us on our day and that’s the plan for the course of the three-game series.”
West Indies are reigning T20 World champions following their triumph in India two years ago, but have lost their last five outings in bilateral series against Pakistan and New Zealand.
However, they will be favourites to get the better of Bangladesh, with the likes of Russell and Samuels available, and white-ball specialists Rovman Powell and Samuel Badree also in the line-up.
And with much of the side coming off stints in the recent Global T20 Canada league, Brathwaite expects his troops to be on top of their game.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the boys get out there and express themselves. The majority of the boys [are coming] from the Canada T20 and they’ve been doing very well there,” the all-rounder explained.
“Traditionally we have been powerhouses and it’s a matter of every time we get together, we continue to exert that dominance. I just like enjoying watching the boys express themselves and hopefully this is another opportunity over the three-game series to see such.”
West Indies will hope to draw first blood here in order to take an advantage into the doubleheader at the weekend, scheduled for the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, United States.
The Caribbean side boast a decent record at the venue, having won three of the six matches there and lost twice, and Brathwaite said he expected high-scoring affairs in the fixtures there.
“A bit of runs are always scored there so it should be exciting cricket for the fans. Hopefully, we get a very big turnout and very good atmosphere from the West Indian population in the US,” the big Barbadian said.
“It’s always a challenge especially as a captain, setting fields and managing expectations with the ball as a bowler as well. As a batting unit, it is about staying disciplined and not letting the fact that it is a high-scoring ground get the best of us and play on our ego.
“It’s just about executing and in games like those – even here in St Kitts [which is a] pretty small ground and traditionally high-scoring – it’s about staying disciplined and having the right attitude whether with ball in hand or bat in hand.”
Bangladesh will be relying on their seasoned batsmen Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, inspirational captain Shakib Al Hasan and the dangerous but inconsistent Mahmudullah. Iqbal notched up two centuries in the ODIs and the visitors will be hoping that form continues.
Tomorrow’s opening game bowls off at 8 p.m. while the Florida doubleheader at the weekend is carded for the same time.
West Indies swept the Test series 2-0 while Bangladesh rebounded to capture the ODI series 2-1, winning the decisive third match by 18 runs at Warner Park on Saturday.
SQUADS: West Indies – Carlos Brathwaite (captain), Samuel Badree, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Marlon Samuels, Evin Lewis, Andre Russell, Denesh Ramdin, Rovman Powell, Keemo Paul, Ashley Nurse, Chadwick Walton, Kesrick Williams.
Bangladesh – Shakib Al Hasan (c), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hassan, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider, Abu Jayed, Ariful Haque