Carlos Brathwaite has come to Andre Russell's defence after the West Indies all-rounder appeared in the Global T20 (GT20) in Canada hours after pulling out of an international match injured.

Russell saw his Cricket World Cup cut short with a left knee injury and then aggravated the issue in the GT20.

The 31-year-old had been named in the Windies' squad for their first two Twenty20 internationals against India pending a fitness test, yet he informed selectors of his inability to feature.

However, hours after Jason Mohammed was called up in his place, Russell turned out again for Vancouver Knights in the GT20.

Brathwaite believes Russell receives too much criticism for his patchy fitness record, however, suggesting he instead deserves credit for trying to play when possible.

The Windies skipper suggested Russell was playing for Vancouver without being "100 per cent" but did not wish to risk producing below-par performances for his country.

"I think he's been knocked in the press a bit because of his injury woes," Brathwaite told a news conference. "And I think it's easy for us to see him hobbling around the field and just take for granted that he's injured.

"But we can also look at it on the other side and say he could be home, he could be elsewhere and not trying to play for the West Indies.

"Speaking for myself as captain of the T20 team, and speaking for myself as Andre's friend, whenever we speak about playing for West Indies, that's always his main goal.

"And we've seen in the World Cup, whether he was 100 per cent or not – it's debatable – the fact that he wanted to be at the World Cup, wanted to pull on the shirt and wanted to perform for the people in the West Indies and his mates in the dressing room, I think, is testament to the person he is.

"I think we need to start commending the fact that he actually tries to get on the park and stop lambasting the fact that he probably doesn't stay on it till the end of the 50 overs or the 20 overs.

"Even against my better judgment, I told him to sit out this series. But he really wanted to play, he really wanted to come and show off his skills and show off what he does in franchise cricket for the West Indies.

"Unfortunately, he took another knock and he doesn't think that, if he comes here, he'd be doing justice to other people who could be here and are 100 per cent.

"Obviously, he's a big loss, not only on the field but off the field. In the dressing room, in and around the team, he's a big character, very jovial and, in my eyes, a leader in the dressing room as well.

"But obviously, if we need to get him ready for the Twenty20 World Cup, we have to do without him for a couple of series.

"I prefer that than pushing him in this series and making a long-term injury."

West Indies T20 captain Carlos Brathwaite has come to the defence of injured teammate Andre Russell, who he believes has come in for some harsh press after a number of injuries have impacted his international output.

After feeling discomfort during the Global T20 Canada, Andre Russell asked to be excused from duty for the West Indies in the first T20 internationals against India in the Caribbean.

During a pre-match press conference, Brathwaite, made it clear where he stood on the issue.

Brathwaite tackled those who thought Russell did a disservice to the West Indies’ World Cup hopes, saying:

"And speaking for myself as captain of the T20 team and speaking for myself as Andre's friend, whenever we speak about playing for West Indies, that's always his main goal. And we've seen in the World Cup -whether he was 100% or not, it's debatable - but the fact that he wanted to be at the World Cup, wanted to pull on the shirt and wanted to perform for the people in the West Indies and his mates in the dressing room, I think, is testament to the person he is. And I think we need to start commending the fact that he actually tries to get on the park and stop lambasting the fact that he probably doesn't stay on it till the end of the 50 overs or the 20 overs,” said Brathwaite.

According to the skipper, the more important part of the equation, is Russell’s willingness to play for the West Indies.

"I think he's been knocked in the press a bit because of his injury woes. And I think it's easy for us to see him hobbling around the field and just take for granted that he's injured but we can also look at it on the other side and say he can be home, he could be elsewhere and not trying to play for the West Indies.

Russell, Brathwaite revealed, would have played in these T20s if prodded to do so, despite his less-than-100 per cent fitness status.

"Even against my better judgment, I told him to sit out this series, but he really wanted to play, he really wanted to come and show off his skills and show off what he does in franchise cricket for the West Indies. Unfortunately, he took another knock and he doesn't think that if he comes here that he'd be doing justice to other people who could be here and are 100%. Obviously, he's a big loss, not only on the field but off the field. In the dressing room, in and around the team, he's a big character, very jovial and in my eyes, a leader in the dressing room as well,” said Brathwaite.

The skipper then asked that the press look at the bigger picture, because there were other tournaments the West Indies have an eye on doing well at, tournaments Russell will be important to.

“ … Obviously, if we need to get him ready for the Twenty20 World Cup, we have to do without him for a couple of series, I prefer that than pushing him in this series and making a long term injury.”

Andre Russell has been replaced by Jason Mohammed in the West Indies squad for their first two Twenty20 internationals against India.

Russell was named in the party for the Florida leg of the series subject to a fitness test after a left knee injury cut short his Cricket World Cup.

However, the star all-rounder informed the Windies selectors he had been suffering with discomfort during the Global T20 tournament in Canada and was forced to withdraw.

Interim head coach Floyd Reifer said of Mohammed: "He is a player with lots of experience in all three formats and [has] done well for Trinidad and Tobago as well as Guyana Amazon Warriors.

"It is not easy to the fill the shoes of someone like Andre Russell, who has dominated T20 cricket all over the world and helped West Indies win the ICC T20 World Cup on two occasions.

"We believe Jason is capable of good performances and we back him to perform at this level and win games as well."

The Windies start against India on Saturday, then play the second T20 in Florida, too, before heading to Guyana to continue the series.

After three T20s, the sides will play a trio of ODIs and two Tests.

Windies legend turned commentator Ian Bishop has warned that the India unit is a much-improved team on the road and will be formidable foes despite playing in the Caribbean.

Despite being the world’s top-ranked Test team India has been known to struggle away from home on occasion.  The Asian team has won eight of its last 10 Test matches, with both losses coming away to England and South Africa.  India did, however, defeat the West Indies 2-0 in the last Test series in the Caribbean in 2016.

"India know their home conditions so well. India have become the powerhouse that has played better overseas in recent years. They were very competitive in England last summer, defeated Australia in Australia last year for the first time. No doubt Australia were without their two key players, but that just says India were traveling better," Ian Bishop was quoted as saying by IANS.

The former fast bowler believes that the only way for the regional team to have a chance is for the team’s top batsmen to come to the party.

"West Indies will hope that Roston Chase, who is integral as a batsman to their course, and Shai Hope and all these guys put their foot down and say ok, the pitches at home have been challenging to bat on for everyone, but we have played two seasons now on this. So, we need to start and set down marks on scoring hundreds," Bishop said.

West Indies bowling legend Curtly Ambrose has maintained the belief that the regional team should have looked past star batsman Chris Gayle for the regional team’s tour against India.

The 39-year-old opening batsman had initially announced plans to retire from international cricket, following the recently concluded ICC World Cup.

 Gayle, however, changed his stance just ahead of the tournament and indicated he would stay on for the upcoming tour of India as a potential farewell.  Ambrose and a few others, however, believe the World Cup was the perfect time for the veteran to step aside.  The left-hander was, however, included in an ODI squad to face India. 

Despite struggling to make an impact at the World Cup, Gayle was the player of the series in an impressive performance again England in the Caribbean earlier this year.  While lauding Gayle for his contribution to regional cricket, Ambrose insisted it was time for fresh blood.

 “You need them to get better in terms of the Hetmyer and the Pooran and so forth, and Evin Lewis; so, what are you going to do? Let Chris Gayle play for a next four years and then four years later you bring them in, and are they going to get better then? Of course not,” Ambrose told the Antigua Observer.

“If any of the selectors walk around thinking they owe Chris Gayle or anybody anything then something is wrong because that’s not what West Indies cricket is all about; it is about picking your best possible players to take the team forward,” he added.

“Chris Gayle has played for many years and has done extremely well and I have a lot of respect for him but what I am saying is that it is time to move on. People talking about give him a farewell Test match; he hasn’t played Test for five years so what you are telling me is that one of your opening batsmen, whoever he may be, you’re going to tell him to sit this game out and let’s give Chris Gayle a farewell, but that doesn’t make sense.”

 

India opener Prithvi Shaw has been given an eight-month ban for a doping violation, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed.

According to a statement released by the ICC, the 19-year-old "inadvertently ingested a prohibited substance, which can commonly be found in cough syrups".

Shaw accepted his charge from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and explained the substance was present in an over-the-counter remedy he bought to treat a respiratory tract infection.

The 19-year-old, who scored a century on his Test debut against West Indies last October, will be banned until November 15 as his punishment is backdated to March 16.

Following his impressive introduction at international level, Shaw suffered an ankle injury while fielding during a warm-up game on India's tour of Australia and played no part in the tourists' 2-1 Test series win.

Shaw will miss India's series in the West Indies and at home to South Africa, although he will be available for the second Test of the subsequent two-match rubber against Bangladesh.

Virat Kohli has offered a strong response to reports he has fallen out with India vice-captain Rohit Sharma, insisting "we have had no issues".

There has been speculation over a rift between Kohli and his deputy Rohit since India were beaten in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals by New Zealand.

However, Kohli repeatedly described such stories as "baffling", "ridiculous" and "disrespectful" as he addressed the media on Monday.

The India skipper insists he has a good relationship with Rohit and the rest of his team-mates, questioning the reason for such reporting, given a lack of evidence.

"In my opinion, it is baffling, to be honest," he told a news conference. "It is absolutely ridiculous to read such stuff.

"I have been to public events and the public says to me, 'We have so much respect for you'.

"We are feeding off lies, we are overlooking facts and we are turning a blind eye to all the good things that have happened, creating fantasies and scenarios in our heads, wanting to accept this is the truth.

"I've seen this for too long now, bringing personal lives into the picture, it's disrespectful honestly. I've played the game for 11 years, Rohit's played the game for 10 years.

"It's bizarre that people are creating this on the outside. It baffles you as a leader, as a coach, as a team when lies are being floated around and are being made to look like they are believable. It's actually very disrespectful, to be honest."

Kohli added he does not understand who would benefit from claims that would do more harm than good to Indian cricket.

"If I don't like a person or if I'm insecure with a person, you will see that on my face or in my behaviour to a person - that's how simple it is," he continued.

"I have always praised Rohit whenever I have had an opportunity because I believe he is that good. We have had no issues. As I said, it's baffling, to be honest.

"I don't know who is benefiting from all of this. We here are living, breathing, working towards getting Indian cricket to the top. And here there are people who get some kind of pleasure in bringing it down.

"I don't understand how that works. You work hard for four years to bring a team from seven to one [in the world rankings], and after four years, what are we talking about?

"Within the team, it's for everyone to see our camaraderie and friendship - and it's evident on the field. You can't play with that kind of passion if people don't get along with each other. It's as simple as that.

"It's baffling and it's time we focus on bringing Indian cricket forward and not on things that are not even there at the moment."

Sunil Gavaskar has hit out at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) selectors ahead of India's tour of West Indies, labelling the body "lame ducks" over Virat Kohli continuing as captain.

India exited the Cricket World Cup in the semi-finals, losing to New Zealand after topping the group stage table under Kohli.

He will continue to lead the team in the United States and the Caribbean, though, with Gavaskar questioning why there was no discussions about Kohli's position after India failed to reach the World Cup final.

In a column in Indian outlet Mid Day, Gavaskar said: "That they selected the team for West Indies without first having a meeting to select the captain brings up the question of whether Virat Kohli is the captain of the team at his or the selection committee's pleasure.

"To the best of our knowledge his [Kohli’s] appointment was till the World Cup. After that, it was incumbent on the selectors to meet, even if it was for five minutes for his reappointment."

The India great continued: "Speaking of lame ducks, the Indian selection committee appears to be one.

"After the reappointment, he [Kohli] gets invited to the meeting for his views on selecting the players for the team.

"By bypassing the procedure, the message that goes out is that while the players like Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik get dropped after below-expectations performance, the captain continues despite much below-par expectations, where the team did not even reach the final."

India play the first of three T20 internationals against West Indies on August 3, with three ODI games following before a two-match Test series.

Chris Gayle has been called up to West Indies squad for their ODI series against India, having changed his mind on retirement.

Gayle announced in February he would retire after the World Cup, though he later altered his decision during the tournament in England.

The 39-year-old is two short of 300 ODI appearances, and stated he would definitely take part in the series against India.

And Gayle, who is close to becoming the Windies leading runscorer in ODIs, has indeed been named as part of the 14-man squad for the games in Guyana and Trinidad.

Gayle is not joined in the squad by Andre Russell - with the all-rounder, whose World Cup was ended early by a knee injury - not included. Darren Bravo is another big-name absentee.

The Windies take on India in three T20Is and three ODIs before a two-match Test series in Antigua.

West Indies ODI squad in full: Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Carlos Braithwaite, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Oshane Thomas.

The uncapped Anthony Bramble has been named in West Indies' squad for the first two Twenty20 games against India along with recalled duo Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Bramble could make his debut in a three-match series that will be staged in Florida and Guyana next month.

Spinner Narine and all-rounder Pollard come back into the fold, but opener Chris Gayle made himself unavailable as he is playing in the GT20 in Canada. 

John Campbell should get his chance at the top of the order, while spinner Khary Pierre is also in the 14-man squad.

Andre Russell will have to pass a fitness test after a left knee injury cut short his participation in the Cricket World Cup.

"This squad is an excellent balance of experience and youth," said interim chairman of selectors Robert Haynes.

"It's not just about the present – the India tour of the West Indies – but we are also looking at the T20 World Cup coming up next year and it is important that we find the right combination of players and the right formula for defending our title.

"We have to make sure that we put certain things in place now, so that when it comes to picking the squad for the T20 World Cup, it becomes easier, so we are giving more players the opportunity to play and get the exposure."

 

West Indies squad:

Carlos Brathwaite (captain), Anthony Bramble, John Campbell, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis, Sunil Narine, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas.

West Indies cricket selectors have recalled Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard to the squad to play the first two T20 internationals against India early next month.

MS Dhoni and Jasprit Bumrah have not been included in India's limited-overs squads for the tour of the West Indies, but the uncapped Navdeep Saini has been given the nod while Wriddhiman Saha has earned a Test recall.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Dhoni will not travel to the Caribbean for three Twenty20 clashes and as many ODIs, as he will reportedly serve time with his army regiment.

Dhoni is to take a break from cricket after featuring in the World Cup on the back of the Indian Premier League. 

Paceman Bumrah also misses the white-ball encounters with the Windies, but was among the 16 names in the Test squad.

Quick Saini, 26, will be hoping to make his international debut after being named in the ODI and T20 squads.

All-rounder Hardik Pandya will not play any part against Jason Holder's men, but Shikhar Dhawan has recovered from a broken thumb to take his place in the limited-overs squads.

Left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed comes back into an ODI squad that does not include Dinesh Karthik or the injured Vijay Shankar.

 

India Test squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav.

India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kedar Jadhav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini.

India Twenty20 squad: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Krunal Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini.

MS Dhoni will not be involved when India face West Indies on their tour of the Caribbean as he will instead serve time with his army regiment.

There were suggestions the former India captain - who called time on his Test career in 2014 - would be retiring from ODIs following the Cricket World Cup.

But while those reports have proven premature, Dhoni will be taking a break from the sport for the next two months.

The 38-year-old is an honorary lieutenant colonel in India's Territorial Army, and will now spend the majority of his time away from cricket with his regiment.

"MS Dhoni is not retiring from cricket right now," a senior official from the Board of Control for Cricket in India told PTI.

"He has made himself unavailable for the tour of the West Indies as he will be spending two months with his paramilitary regiment."

India's squad will be confirmed on July 21, with the tour to begin on August 3.

India legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not expected to travel to the Caribbean for the team’s tour against the West Indies.

According to reports, the team has opted to groom new wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant after Dhoni came under criticism for his performance during the ICC World Cup.

“MS [Dhoni] will not go to the West Indies,” a source with knowledge of the situation told Times Now News said.

“Going forward, he will not travel with the team within India or overseas as the first-choice wicketkeeper. Rishabh Pant will take over and there will be a grooming window for him until he settles down,” he added.

“During this time, MS will help in the transition. For all you know, he could be part of the 15 but not part of the 11. This team needs a guiding hand on multiple fronts and wishing MS away is clearly unhealthy.”

The tour will include 3 T20 Internationals, 3 ODIs and 2 test matches in the Caribbean.   The tour kicks off with the T20 internationals on August 3 and carries on until September 3, which marks the fifth day of the second test match.

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