West Indies lost their gamble with Andre Russell’s fitness on Monday when the injury-plagued all-rounder was forced out of their beleaguered World Cup campaign, after failing to recover from a long-standing knee injury.
The injury-plagued 31-year-old managed just four games of West Indies’ six outings in somewhat of a farcical experiment and will now be replaced by batsman Sunil Ambris, who was a part of the side’s pre-tournament camp in Southampton last month.
Russell’s withdrawal comes as little surprise despite West Indies’ insistence he would continue to feature in the World Cup campaign.
The Jamaican has been in visible discomfort throughout the tournament, often hobbling around while fielding and repeatedly forced to leave the field for treatment during matches.
He missed the Windies’ outing against New Zealand and in his last match against Bangladesh one week ago, also struggled in sending down six overs.
All told, Russell managed just five wickets from 19 overs at an average of 20, and made 36 runs from three innings, including a two-ball ‘duck’ against Bangladesh.
His biggest impact came in his side’s opener against Pakistan when he snatched two wickets for four runs in a hostile three-over spell that helped send the Asians crashing for a meagre 105 in Nottingham, setting up the Windies’ only win to date.
Captain Jason Holder had acknowledged following the eight-wicket defeat to England that Russell was struggling with fitness issues but said they planned to do everything possible to have him available for the rest of the tournament.
“It’s been difficult so far for him. We have been trying our best to keep him on the park, but it is proving difficult,” Holder told reporters then.
“Going forward, we have to persist. He is here for a reason. We think he can be a match-winner for us. We have just got to cope with him. Got to do everything we possibly can with him to keep him on the park.”
There had been question marks over Russell’s fitness especially after he lasted just a single One-Day International against Bangladesh last July before the same injury ruled him out of the three-match series.
He was subsequently called up to for the last two fixtures of the five-match series against England last February only to sit out both through injury.
However, a successful Indian Premier League where he plundered 510 runs at an average of 56 and grabbed 11 wickets, enticed selectors to give him the nod for the crucial World Cup campaign.
Ambris, meanwhile, will now link up with the squad here ahead of Thursday’s clash with unbeaten India as the Caribbean side, virtually out of the running for a top four spot, seek to end their campaign strongly.
The 26-year-old was a member of the squad which toured Ireland for the Tri-Series involving the hosts and Bangladesh, scoring 278 runs at an average of 92, including a career-best 148 against Ireland.