Nearly a decade after winning the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka, seamer Ravi Rampaul has a chance to add to his title after being picked in West Indies' 15-member squad for the upcoming edition of the tournament.
Rampaul, now 36, had last played a T20I for West Indies in November 2015 but is now back in the mix after emerging as the best seamer on the spin-friendly St Kitts tracks in the ongoing CPL.
Offspin-bowling allrounder Roston Chase, who is uncapped in T20Is, elbowed his way into the squad after impressing in both CPL 2020 and 2021 for the St Lucia franchise. However, there was no place for Sunil Narine and Jason Holder was only part of the reserves.
"Ravi Rampaul is a highly experienced bowler who performed well in the last CG Insurance Super50 Cup and the current Hero CPL to date," lead selector Roger Harper said in a media release. "He will boost the team's wicket-taking options in the powerplay and the middle phase and will provide another option for the death overs.
"Roston Chase has shown that he is a very capable T20 player. He performed well in the CPL in 2020 and has been outstanding in the 2021 edition so far. He has shown the ability to knit the innings together while still scoring at a fast rate with a low dot-ball percentage. He will be an excellent foil for the explosive players in the team."
Narine has been active in the CPL and the IPL and was more recently part of the Hundred as well, but he hasn't been in action for West Indies since 2019, when he indicated to the national selectors that he was "not ready" for international cricket. In Narine's absence, legspinner Hayden Walsh Jr is the only specialist spinner in the group. He will be assisted by fingerspin-bowling allrounders Fabian Allen and Chase. Left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein didn't make the main squad but is among the travelling reserves as is Darren Bravo.
Dwayne Bravo, who had suffered a groin injury during St Kitts & Nevis Patriots' clash against St Lucia Kings on September 4, and hasn't played in the CPL since, however, was cleared for selection. Bravo had come out of T20I retirement in December 2019 to reunite with captain Kieron Pollard in the hunt for another world title.
Tearaway Oshane Thomas, who has played only two T20Is this year, also found a place after bowling sharp spells for his new CPL side Barbados Royals. Thomas hit speeds north of 140kph and cranked it up when he bowled Chris Gayle with a 142kph rocket.
Rampaul, though, is the biggest surprise although he is currently the top wicket-taker in the CPL, with 17 strikes in eight matches at an average of 13 and an economy rate of 7.20. In addition to pounding the deck with pace, Rampaul has been effective with his slower cutters. Earlier in the 2020-21 Super 50 Cup, Rampaul was the second-highest wicket-taker, with 14 strikes in six matches for Trinidad & Tobago. Obed McCoy lends more variety to the attack with his left-arm angle and change-ups.
As for Chase, he is the top-scorer in this CPL, with 281 runs in seven innings at an average of over 70 and strike rate of over 150. In the past two seasons, he has also fronted up to bowl the tough overs for the St Lucia franchise. There was no room, though, for batter Sherfane Rutherford or allrounder Romario Shepherd.
Nine of West Indies' squad members will feature in the second leg of the IPL in the UAE before they begin their T20 World Cup defence with a rematch of the 2016 final, against England on October 23.
Harper backed the side to successfully defend their world title. "The squad is one with good depth and strength in all departments," he said. "There is tremendous T20 experience along with World Cup-winning experience which should stand the team in good stead. This squad is made up of many world-beating players who, once knitted into a world-beating team, will be extremely difficult to beat. I expect the team to do very well and with the rub of the green I think the team has a good chance of defending the title."
Squad: Kieron Pollard (capt), Nicholas Pooran (vice-capt & wk), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Roston Chase, Andre Fletcher (wk), Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr
Reserves: Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Sheldon Cottrell, Darren Bravo
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo