Windies recall Gayle for first two England ODIs

Chris Gayle recently skipped the India and Bangladesh tours. © Getty

Windies have recalled veteran Chris Gayle for the first two ODIs of the forthcoming five-match series against England. Gayle last played an ODI for Windies in the home ODI series against Bangladesh in July last year. The 14-man squad also includes Nicholas Pooran, who has received a maiden call-up to the ODI squad.

Gayle is Windies’ second-most capped player in the format with 284 matches against his name. He’s also the second-highest run scorer for the country with a tally of 9727, only behind Brian Lara’s 10405 runs in 299 appearances.

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The 39-year-old had declined selection for the tours of India and Bangladesh, raising concerns that he may run himself out of favour for a World Cup berth. Captain Jason Holder, however, gave the dynamic opener’s prospects a major shot in the arm by offering his support for Gayle’s selection for the showpiece event as long as the veteran maintained desired levels of fitness.

Meanwhile, Pooran impressed the selectors with his stroke-making in the eight T20Is he has played for Windies. The left-handed wicketkeeper-bat boasts of a strike rate of 152.57, a statistic also key to his acquisition by Kings XI Punjab for IPL 2019.

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Also making his comeback to the squad is Ashley Nurse, who picked up a pectoral muscle injury during the fourth ODI against India in November 2018. The off-spinner was forced out in the subsequent fifth ODI and has been out of action since.

Opener Evin Lewis, who pulled out of the limited-overs series in India, also makes his comeback in the ODIs. He was earlier recalled to the T20I squad for the series against Bangladesh following Windies’ tour of India. Experienced batsman Marlon Samuels remains unavailable due to treatment on his knees.

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“We welcome the return of Chris Gayle who missed the last two series and Ashley Nurse from injury. We are pleased to introduce Nicholas Pooran to the ODI squad for the first time. He is clearly a young player with undoubted talent and we believe he can add value to our middle order,” said Windies’ Chairman of Selectors, Courtney Browne.

Browne noted that pacer Shannon Gabriel hasn’t been selected for the first-two one-dayers given his workload. “Shannon Gabriel remains very much in our World Cup plans but with a heavy workload expected in the Test series he will be considered for selection later in the ODI series,” he concluded.

The five-match series begins in Barbados on February 20.

ODI squad: Fabian Allen, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder (C), Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Kemar Roach, Oshane Thomas