West Indies World Cup profile: Chris Gayle and Andre Russell's returns pack side with dynamite

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Gayle (r) is back for a final World Cup ride.

They might not be the unstoppable force they once were in international cricket but there is plenty to be excited about for two-times champions West Indies as they get ready to embark on their 12th ICC World Cup campaign.

The Caribbean side qualified for the 2019 edition in England by the skin of their teeth after failing to gain an automatic spot in the 10-team competition, but have shown plenty of positive signs of late in the limited-overs formats.

With a squad brimming with T20 franchise league stalwarts, the Windies are more than capable of beating any side on their day.

On paper, West Indies have failed to record a single bilateral series win in the ODI format since 2014 when they whitewashed Bangladesh by 3-0 at home.

Five years is a long wait for a bilateral series win and it is no surprise that they are ranked eighth in the format currently. However, the return of T20 kingpins Chris Gayle and Andre Russell to the ODI side has changed the complexion of the team entirely.

They gave No1 ranked England a scare in the drawn 2-2 series in February this year and it would be foolish for any opposition to discount their threat.

Record: Champions 1975 and 1979

Squad: Jason Holder (c), Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Ashley Nurse, Fabian Allen, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope (wk), Oshane Thomas, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Evin Lewis.

Strength: Definitely the batting. In Gayle and Russell, Windies have some of the cleanest and biggest hitters of the cricket ball who are difficult to stop when they get stuck in. Add in the likes of Evin Lewis, Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer in the mix and the side possesses the capability to blow any bowling attack away.

Weakness: It doesn’t look the most frightening of bowling attacks, with the side placing their trust in Test stalwarts Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach to lead the line. The lack of a single wrist-spinner is also worrying.

One to watch: While Gayle will be keen to sign off in style in his last Windies hurrah, Andre Russell is coming into the tournament on the back of a monstrous IPL 2019 campaign where he struck a total of 52 sixes in 14 matches while also picking up 11 wickets.

Surprise package: While Gayle and Russell are drawing all the attention, newly promoted vice-captain Shai Hope has become one of the most consistent performers for the team. A batting average of nearly 50 after 52 ODI appearances along with six tons is no mean feat and Hope’s form has only been getting better.

Prediction: Group Stage

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