Dubai: Andre Russell, known as ‘Muscle Russell’ following his exploits in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), has forced his way into the West Indies team for the World Cup.

This extremely gifted all-rounder, who last played an ODI in July 2018, will be grateful to the IPL for his return to the international fold.

Russell is expected to play a vital role in the fortunes of the West Indies at the World Cup along with some of the superstars of the shorter-format of the game such as Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Darren Bravo, Carlos Brathwaite and two 22-year-old pacers Shimron Hetmyer and Oshane Thomas.

Russell, who has always been a fighter, had to also battle a spate of injuries and a one-year ban in 2017 after being found guilty of being negligent in filing his whereabouts on three separate occasions within a 12-month period in 2015. That — under the World Anti-Doping Agency rules — amounted to a failed dope test. All these factors had put the brakes on Russell’s promising international career which began in 2010, resulting in him playing only in one Test, 52 ODIs and 47 T20 Internationals during his nine-year career.

Russell, now 33, is highly sought after by T20 franchise owners, not only due to his hard-hitting ability but also for skill as an effective death-over bowler. In the T10 League in Sharjah and also in the all the editions of the Pakistan Super League in the UAE, he has stood out as the finest all-rounder. In the ongoing IPL, he has a strike rate over 200 and has hit over 40 sixes so far.

In fact, Russell’s showing so far has been even better than Gayle, from whom he got inspired to hit hard. For Gayle, it will be his fifth and final World Cup appearance. Many expected Kieron Pollard, another IPL star performer, to be selected, but he did not get the nod.

Other notable omissions are Sunil Narine and Marlon Samuels. It is understood that selectors did not pick Narine as there is an injury to his finger which needs surgery. Mumbai Indians’ Alzarri Joseph, who produced a deadly six-wicket spell in this IPL, would have been in the squad but he is also injured. A new selection committee headed by Robert Haynes picked the squad.

The committee revealed that the West Indies will play an ODI tri-series against Ireland and Bangladesh before the World Cup, and may make some changes to their 15 before the final May 23 cut-off date for World Cup.

Commenting on the selection, Hayne said: “Based on the new selection policy approach which allowed us to consider a number of players that have not regularly appeared in the side over the last two years, we had a wide base of talent from which to choose.”

Squad: Jason Holder (c), Andre Russell, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo, Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen, Kemar Roach, Nicholas Pooran, Oshane Thomas, Shai Hope, Shannon Gabriel, Sheldon Cottrell and Shimron Hetmyer.