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Five takeaways from West Indies' CWC19 squad

West Indies named their 15-member squad for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 on Wednesday, 24 April.

Last month, the Caribbean side surprised critics with a brilliant performance against the No. 1 ranked England side to level a closely fought five-match one-day international series. Former West Indies legend Brian Lara recently called the team the "surprise element" in this World Cup. And going by their unpredictable nature, they are likely to create plenty of excitement in the tournament.

Here are the the five key takeaways from the squad announcement.

Muscle Russell is back!

Andre Russell, who last played an ODI in July 2018 – his first one-day game in three years – made a comeback to the Windies side. A spate of injuries and a one-year ban in 2017 had stalled the Jamaican’s progress in international cricket but the selectors have shown faith in the 30-year-old. Russell has been in exceptional form in T20 leagues around the world. In the ongoing Indian Premier League season he has already accumulated 392 runs at an astonishing strike-rate of 217.77 and hit 41 sixes. If he continues this spectacular form, fans are in for a treat in the World Cup as well.

No place for Pollard

Both Russell and Kieron Pollard bring a similar set of skills to the table. But while selectors have given Russell the nod, Pollard has been excluded from the squad. Pollard last played an ODI in October 2016 against South Africa. After a couple of quiet IPL seasons, Pollard has been performing well this year and had admitted after his recent knock of 83 against Kings XI Punjab that he had not ruled out the possibility of a West Indies return.

The opening options

In his last England outing, Lewis had hit a scintillating 176* at The Oval
In his last England outing, Lewis had hit a scintillating 176* at The Oval

During England's recent tour of the West Indies in February, 25-year-old John Campbell had partnered Chris Gayle to open the innings. But Campbell's below par performance did little to interest the selectors and they instead chose Evin Lewis to do the honours. Interestingly, Lewis last played an ODI in July 2018 and performed poorly. Lewis may not have done well recently but his last ODI innings in England was a brutal 176* at The Oval in September 2017. The selectors also ignored Kieran Powell, who had opened in ODIs in December last year in the three-match series against Bangladesh.

Gayle, the experienced campaigner

If Russell has lit up the IPL, Gayle is not too far behind either. The experienced left-hander is all set to play his fifth and final World Cup. He has been in outstanding form in international cricket. In the five ODIs he has played this year, he has accumulated 424 runs at an average of 106. Even in the IPL, he is striking at 159.46 and has scored over 400 runs so far, including a quick-fire 99*. His form bodes well for the team and if Lewis drops anchor at one end, Gayle will be looking to go all guns blazing at the opposition when the tournament begins.

Rise of the 22-year-olds

The promising 22-year-olds – Shimron Hetmyer and Oshane Thomas
The promising 22-year-olds – Shimron Hetmyer and Oshane Thomas

Shimron Hetmyer and Oshane Thomas, both 22, have been referred to as West Indies' most promising players in recent times. While Hetmyer, who debuted in December 2017, has already gone on to establish himself as a vital cog in the middle order, Thomas, who played his first ODI in October last year, has been touted as the next great West Indies fast bowler. Both had a terrific Caribbean Premier League in 2018 and have carried that form since. Hetmyer, who has scored close to 900 ODI runs, has been striking well this year. And Thomas, who consistently hits speeds of over 145kph, has already picked up 15 wickets in nine ODIs, including a match-winning five-wicket haul against England last month.

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