Russell to the rescue?

—Eyes on Russell as Windies chase win in 100th ODI

West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, CMC – Boosted by the return of all-rounder Andre Russell, West Indies will continue their quest for their first series series win in five years when they face England in a now pivotal fourth One-Day International here today.

The two teams shared the doubleheader in Bridgetown last week before rain dashed any hopes of action in the third match at the Grenada National Stadium on Monday. With only two games remaining, today’s match now proves critical, with the winner ensuring at least a share of the series.

The contest will have some historic significance as the 100th ODI between the two teams and captain Jason Holder said they would be going all out to make the occasion a winning one.

“Hopefully if the weather stays away we should get a complete game … and obviously our objective is to win the game,” Holder told reporters here yesterday.

“I’ve been told it’s the hundredth ODI between West Indies and England so there’s something special around it as well, so I guess all the guys are looking forward to it and hopefully we can start this game well and get some momentum going into the last one.”

Russell has been flown in to replace experienced seamer Kemar Roach who has been forced out of the series with a back injury.

The 30-year-old’s presence adds a certain x-factor to the Windies lineup, with his ability to pulverise attacks with his aggressive lower order batting.

He has not played ODIs since limping out of the Bangladesh series last July after the first match, but Holder said he was focussed and up for the challenge of playing the world number one side.

“He’s in a good frame of mind. I’ve had a few good chats with him and he’s really looking forward to getting back on the field for West Indies,” Holder said.

“The last ODI he played for us was against Bangladesh and it wasn’t the best of occasions for him in terms of him not being able to fulfil his true potential in terms of his game.

“But he’s looking forward to this challenge ahead and obviously England is a good cricket side and have been playing some really good cricket so he will want to do the best he can against the best team in the world.”

Russell’s arrival brings Carlos Brathwaite’s place in the side under scrutiny, especially with returns of one wicket, and scores of 13 and three in the two completed ODIs so far.

That apart, West Indies are expected to undergo little change for today’s game, with most of the top order firing and the bowling stacking up well in their 26-run victory in the second ODI last Friday.

Holder pointed to the return of veteran Chris Gayle and the immediate impact of left-arm speedster Sheldon Cottrell as good signs for the unit.

“I still think we’re tinkering around with the best combinations but it’s a good thing having some experience in the dressing room especially with the young talent that we have,” he explained.

“It’s great to see a guy like Chris coming back into the team. He’s got the most runs in the series so far and then young guys like (Shimron) Hetmyer coming to the fore and continuing his good form, and Shai Hope as well so I think it is a great mix.

“It’s also good to see a guy like Sheldon Cottrell come in for his first game after not being selected in the initial squad, and coming in and having the impact that he has had, is tremendous for us. I just think it is a good energy that we have right now in the group and hopefully we can continue to build on the side.”


WEST INDIES – Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, John Campbell, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Nicholas Pooran, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas.

ENGLAND – Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

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