Marlon Samuels returns to the West Indies limited overs squad. He will be a key batsman for the team in the run-up to the ICC World Cup 2015 © IANS
Marlon Samuels returns to the West Indies limited overs squad. He will be a key batsman for the team in the run-up to the ICC World Cup 2015 © IANS

West Indies announced their One-Day International (ODI) squad for series against India next month. They have numerous options in their ODI squad for the series against India. With a few months to go for the ICC World Cup 2015, West Indies would try to find the right balance and build their squad. Nishad Pai Vaidya reviews the West Indies ODI squad for the tour to India.

The West Indies have a long road ahead of the ICC World Cup 2015. They first arrive in India for a full tour from October 3 to November 19, 2014 before embarking on a challenge to South Africa, which would begin on December 10. From South Africa, then would immediately make the flight to Australia for the big event. This packed schedule leaves little room for the players to breathe and the team management has to get its plans in place. The West Indies One-Day International (ODI) side for the tour to India has been announced, sans an injured Chris Gayle. The other highlight is the return of Jerome Taylor, who’s last ODI was in 2010.

For quite some time, West Indies have had a very settled one-day unit. Their core remains intact and even the fringe players have been in the setup for some time. The only major change is Leon Johnson coming in place of Gayle. Johnson made his Test debut recently and has played two ODIs, way back in 2008. Here is a chance for him to make a mark and remain an opening option. For some time, West Indies have had a problem trying to find a suitable opening batsman to partner Gayle. With Gayle out, the others get a chance to shine.

Lendl Simmons is one player would be a front-runner to open the batting. He has shown fantastic form in recent times at the top in T20 cricket and West Indies would do well to capitalize on that. You wouldn’t want to waste him in the middle order and it would make more sense to have him open the batting. Dwayne Smith should open the batting unless they think of Johnson. With a few months to go for the World Cup, West Indies need an opening batsman in the mix soon. Gayle has made that  position his own and would walk in when he gets fit.

Marlon Samuels had a lean run recently and was left out of the side. However, he is an impact player and West Indies know his worth ahead of the World Cup. Samuels can win games for them almost single-handedly and the West Indies would need him in their plans. He would occupy a vital spot in the middle order along with the Bravo brothers, Kieron Pollard and Denesh Ramdin. That middle order looks a lot stronger with Samuels in the side. It is only a matter of consistency.

West Indies also have a lot of all-round options, which adds tremendous balance to the side. Darren Sammy has shown what he can do with the bat and his seemingly innocuous bowling can cause problems to the opposition batsmen. Andre Russell is in red-hot form with the bat to go with his useful bowling and athletic fielding. In the midst of all that, Jason Holder’s growth as a pinch-hitter has surprised many. He batted at No 3 for the Barbados Tridents quite a few times in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). However, he will majorly have a bowling role in the side.

Sunil Narine will be the leading spinner, no doubts about it. The fast bowling department looks very strong with Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach and Taylor back in the setup. Backing them up, they have Russell, Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Pollard and Holder.

The West Indies side is high on quality and they need to find that elusive consistency in the months ahead. There is copious talent and it would be unfortunate if this side doesn’t find success.

West Indies ODI Squad:

Dwayne Bravo (c), Darren Bravo, Jason Holder, Leon Johnson, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Jerome Taylor.

Full schedule of West Indies tour of India here

Complete coverage of West Indies tour of India 2014 here

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)