The veteran duo of Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard were, on Tuesday, recalled to a 14-member West Indies squad for the first two games of the three-match T20 International series against India, beginning August 3 at Florida in the United States.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Anthony Bramble is the only uncapped player in the squad selected for the first two T20Is to be played on August 3 and 4 at the Broward County Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida.
The selection panel could make changes to the squad for the third T20I on August 6 at the Guyana National Stadium, the West Indies Cricket Board said.
The squad, to be led by captain Carlos Brathwaite, also includes all-rounder Andre Russell subject to passing a fitness assessment prior to the series. Russell had made an early exit from the World Cup to undergo an operation on his troublesome left knee.
Interim chairman of the selection panel Robert Haynes said veteran opener Chris Gayle had notified that he was unavailable for the series due to playing commitments at the GT20 in Canada. This has given the opportunity for left-handed compatriot John Campbell to fill the slot.
Left-handed opener John Campbell and left-arm spinner Khary Pierre have also been included alongside a number of regulars, as the interim selection panel seeks to explore options with the ICC T20 World Cup looming next year in Australia.
“This squad is an excellent balance of experience and youth. It is not just about the present — the India Tour of the West Indies — but we are also looking at the T20 World Cup coming up next year and it is important that we find the right combination of players and the right formula for defending our title,” said Haynes.
“We have to make sure that we put certain things in place now, so that when it comes to picking the squad for the T20 World Cup, it becomes easier, so we are giving more players the opportunity to play and get the exposure.”
Haynes said he expects the T20I series to be a keenly contested one.
“Most of the players that we have selected have played in the IPL and they know all of the Indian players well. We will have the edge for sure because we are playing at home. At the end of the day, however, it is important that the players go out there and play to win, not just to compete, and I think we have the right balance to do so.”
Mystery spinner Narine last played in a T20I for West Indies against England almost two years ago at Chester-le-Street and batting all-rounder Pollard appeared last November on the Tour of India.
“We felt that players like Narine and Pollard, who have played well in T20 leagues around the world, once they are fit and mentally ready to play, we must give them the opportunity to represent the West Indies again,” said Haynes.
The 28-year-old Bramble will provide wicket keeping back-up to Nicholas Pooran despite not having played an official T20 in close to three years. He did, however, captain West Indies B at last years Canada GLT20 and was picked up by Guyana Amazon Warriors in the CPL draft in May.
“Though Nicholas Pooran will be the first-choice wicketkeeper, we needed to have someone to deputise in case something unexpected happens and he (Bramble) is the perfect choice,” said Haynes.
India play three ODIs and two Tests against the West Indies after the T20Is.
West Indies Squad for first two T20 Internationals: Carlos Brathwaite (capt), Sunil Narine, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Rovman Powell, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas, Anthony Bramble (wk), John Campbell, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis.