St. John’s (Antigua): ‘Universal boss’ Chris Gayle was not picked for West Indies’ squad to face India in a two-match Test series despite his desire to play, while offspinning all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall was drafted in.
Gayle, 39, had said he would retire from international cricket after the home Test series against India, which is starting from August 22. He last played a five-day game in September 2014. The second One-day International at the Queen’s Park Oval, on Sunday, could be the last couple of times that one sees the legend take the field on the international stage.
Alzarri Joseph, who was part of the team that beat England earlier this year and also made a splash in the Indian Premier League (IPL), was also not named in the squad on Friday as he is still recovering from injury.
Cornwall has 260 wickets from 55 first-class games and finished as the leading bowler in the most recent regional four-day tournament.
“Rahkeem has been performing consistently over a long period of time and has proven to be a match-winner, so we believe his elevation to the Test squad is merited at this time,” Robert Haynes, the head of Cricket West Indies’s interim selection panel, was quoted as saying.
“We believe he can provide an attacking option to our bowling attack with his sharp turn and extra bounce. He can also lend a bit of depth to the batting, so we are looking forward to him coming into the squad and making a valuable contribution.”
Joseph, meanwhile, was last seen in the IPL playing for Mumbai Indians. He suffered a tear in his right arm.
“Alzarri is undergoing remedial work and we are monitoring his recovery,” Haynes said. “But we do not think he is ready yet for last five days of a gruelling Test match. He represents a key part of West Indies future and we do not want to rush him back. We have two important series coming up later in the year in India and we want to be very careful how his recovery is managed.”
After rain playing spoilsport in the first ODI of the three-game series in Guyana, both India and West Indies will be looking to start on the attack after a washed out opening game.
For India, it will be about starting afresh after a disappointing loss in the semi-final of the 2019 World Cup. The batting looks solid at the top with Shikhar Dhawan coming back to join Rohit Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli will once again get to play freely at the no.3 position as he doesn’t need to worry about building the innings as he had to during the showpiece event in England.
The middle-order kind of picks itself as the team didn’t get to bat in the opening game. So while Shreyas Iyer should get another go after having made the XI in the first game, Rishabh Pant definitely will be playing the role of the finisher unless there is a top-order collapse. Kedar Jadhav is also set to get a game over Manish Pandey as was the case in the opening tie.
In the bowling department, Mohammad Shami looked mighty impressive as he gave away just five runs in the three overs that he bowled. But with young Khaleel Ahmed taking some stick from Evin Lewis, going from 27 from his three overs, it could be interesting to see if the Indian team management decides to give Navdeep Saini his ODI cap as he was pretty impressive in the T20I series.
West Indies Test squad: Jason Holder (Captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich (wicket-keeper), Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer Shai Hope, Keemo Paul, Kemar Roach.