Anisa Mohammed thrown lifeline; Shabika Gajnabi earns maiden call-up

Anisa Mohammed returns to the squad. ©Getty Images

Anisa Mohammed, the veteran off-spinner, has been included in the 13-member West Indies squad for the three-match ODI series against Australia beginning on September 5. She joins an injury-hit squad that will be led by Stafanie Taylor.

Mohammed, who last played an international match in February 2019 against Pakistan in Dubai, has been thrown an unexpected lifeline. Having been dropped for West Indies tour of England in April, she has earned a call-up in the absence of Deandra Dottin, Shakera Selman, Chedean Nation and Shemaine Campbelle— all of whom have been ruled out due to injury.

With 117 ODIs and 146 wickets under her belt, Mohammed adds a wealth of experience to the unit. Kyshona Knight, the top order batter, and Reniece Boyce, who has played only one ODI so far, were also recaledl, while Shakiba Gajnabi has been included in the squad for the first time.

Boyce, only 21-years-old, made her ODI debut during the World Cup back in 2017. She was unable to win the faith of the selectors during the subsequent T20I series in New Zealand and was eventually dropped.

Gajnabi, the 19-year-old right-arm seamer from Guyana, has impressed through the domestic season. Captain of the Guyana Under-19 team, she possesses a ‘patient composure’ and strong arm. Aside from her skills with the ball, Gajnabi is expected to provide some handy contributions with the bat as well— her innings of 77 in the domestic tournament proving what she is capable of.

“The panel selected the best available players from the camp in Antigua over the last month, as a result of most of our senior players being unavailable due to injury,” said Robert Haynes, interim chairman of selectors. “We have included Anisa Mohammed and Kyshona Knight who have a lot of experience between them, which is required when playing against Australia, the top-ranked women’s team.”

“As a result of the injuries to our senior players, it gave us the opportunity to select two of our younger players in Shabika Gajnabi and Karishma Ramharack to give the captain more options in the bowling department.”

Taylor and Hayley Matthews, both fresh off their stints in the Women’s Cricket Super League in England, will be expected to lift much of the team’s weight on their shoulders, putting in performances with both bat and ball. They will be assisted in the batting department by Stacy-Ann King, Natasha McClean and Kycia Knight, while Afy Fletcher, Shamilia Connell, Chinelle Henry, Karishma Ramharack and Mohammed will be the mainstays with the ball.

Currently placed seventh in the ICC Women’s ODI Championship table, the hosts will be desperate to register at least couple of wins. While the odds are stacked against them— thanks mostly to the injuries they have suffered— there is no doubt they will want to put up a good show at home.

The series will kick off with a day-night match at Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua, after which the action will shift to the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium for the remainder of the ODI series. The three-match T20I series will be played at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.

Squad: Stafanie Taylor (Captain), Hayley Matthews (Vice-Captain), Reniece Boyce, Afy Fletcher, Chinelle Henry, Shamilia Connell, Stacy Ann King, Natasha McLean, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Anisa Mohammed, Karishma Ramharack and Shabika Gajnabi.