Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas back in West Indies T20I squad

Andre Russell and Oshane Thomas have been recalled to West Indies’ T20I squad, with Shimron Hetmyer also declared fit. All three are part of a Kieron Pollard-led 14-man squad that will face Sri Lanka in two T20Is, on March 4 and March 6, after the ongoing three-match ODI series between the two concludes.

Russell hasn’t played for West Indies since pulling up short midway through the 50-over World Cup in June 2019, though he has taken part in other matches, most notably in the Bangladesh Premier League in December and January. Cricket West Indies said in a release that Russell had “successfully completed the CWI return-to-play assessment programme under the supervision of CWI Medical Team in his native Jamaica.”

Thomas, who turned 23 earlier in the week, has been selected after making a full recovery from a car accident in Jamaica.

Hetmyer, who is not part of the ODI squad completed a fitness assessment earlier in the week and successfully reached the minimum required standard for selection.

Along with Russell and Thomas, back in the side are Fabian Allen, who has recovered from the injury he sustained in West Indies’ series against Afghanistan in late 2019, and Shai Hope.

From the squad selected for West Indies three T20Is against Ireland in January, those missing are Evin Lewis, Khary Pierre, Sherfane Rutherford and Romario Shepherd.

Chief selector Roger Harper described Russell as adding potency to “every department” while saying Thomas was “raring to go”. He also said that Hope had been picked because he could double up as a keeper as well as provide an option as an opener.

“Shimron Hetmyer missed out on selection for the ODI squad. He has since attained the required fitness level, becoming available for selection and has been included,” Harper said. “Andre Russell is back in the squad, having been cleared by the medical panel and successfully completing CWI’s return-to-play protocol. Andre will add potency to every department of the team. Oshane Thomas appears to be focused and raring to go. He will add pace and penetration to the bowling unit.

“Shai Hope provides an opening option and cover as a back-up wicket-keeper also. Fabian Allen returns from the injury he sustained in the series against Afghanistan late last year. He will provide a spin bowling option as well as adding depth to the batting group.”

Harper said that the T20Is against Sri Lanka would also serve as building grounds for the T20 World Cup later in the year in Australia, where West Indies will be defending champions.

“I look forward to the team building on its recent performances and winning the T20 series in Sri Lanka,” Harper said. “This is another opportunity for the team to build on its strengths and identify areas that need improving while continuing the process of building-up with the aim of peaking for the T20 World Cup in October.”

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