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Xavier Marshall recalled for USA's T20I tour of UAE

Xavier Marshall takes his place in the field during a trial match Peter Della Penna

Former West Indies batsman Xavier Marshall is in line to play his first match for USA in more than a year after being named in a 14-man squad for the tour of the UAE in March.

The tour will mark USA's T20I debut in a two-match series against the UAE at the ICC Academy on March 15 and 16. A few 50-over matches as part of the preparation for the WCL Division Two in Namibia this April are also being planned.

Marshall, who played seven Test matches, 24 ODIs and six T20Is for West Indies between 2005 and 2009, made his USA debut in January 2018 at the CWI Super50 tournament in Antigua, finishing with 137 runs in eight innings - including one half-century - at an average of 17.12. But he then drew the ire of USA administrators for skipping the last two days of a regional selection trial in New York in June last year and was subsequently left out of a 33-man camp in Texas later that month, which was used to help select USA's teams for the second half of 2018.

However, signs began pointing to a reconciliation in January when the 32-year-old Marshall was one of 17 players invited to a squad bonding and fitness camp held at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Marshall was subsequently included in a 21-man group that went to Antigua earlier this month for a five-match tour. He made scores of 0 and 31 opening the batting against an Antigua & Barbuda XI in Coolidge that included West Indies fast bowler Alzarri Joseph.

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The other player recalled to the squad is 26-year-old medium pacer Jessy Singh. His last appearances for USA came in October 2018 at the CWI Super50 in Barbados, where he took one wicket in three matches before being left out of the squad that went to Oman for the WCL Division Three matches in November. Jessy took 1 for 35 in 7.5 overs opening the bowling in one of USA's two wins over Antigua & Barbuda XI, but his sharp fielding and scores of 12 not out and 29 not out coming in late helped his case as someone who can shore up the lower-order batting.

Batsman Alex Amsterdam and left-arm spinning allrounder Nisarg Patel have been dropped from the side that clinched promotion last November in Oman to make room for Marshall and Jessy. Neither player made it into the starting XI during the Division Three games. Amsterdam wasn't picked to play in either match against Antigua & Barbuda XI while Nisarg took 1 for 28 in ten overs in his lone outing outside of three USA intra-squad matches.

The Barbados-contracted pair of batsman Aaron Jones and legspinning-allrounder Hayden Walsh, as well as the Jamaica-contracted top-order batsman Steven Taylor are expected to miss the final round of four-day matches in the CWI Professional Cricket League that start on March 14 after being named in the touring party.

Taylor has not been picked for Jamaica in any first-class match this season. Jones has played in six out of Barbados' seven matches during the current campaign but has yet to score a half-century, while Walsh claimed one five-for in the first of two matches he played for Barbados in December.

The other notable aspect of the touring squad is the retention of former Pakistan Under-19 allrounder Jannisar Khan. As ESPNcricinfo reported earlier in February, USA Cricket were negotiating with the Emirates Cricket Board to include two T20Is as part of their tour to enable Jannisar to serve out a two-match ban he received for an ICC code of conduct violation during USA's final match in Oman against Singapore. Clearing the ban in the UAE means Jannisar will be fully available for WCL Division Two, where USA need a top-four finish in the six-team competition in order to secure ODI status through 2021.

Aside from the matches against the UAE, sources suggest USA are also organising 50-over matches against English county sides who are in the UAE during USA's three-week tour, though the fixtures have not been confirmed.