United Arab Emirates will feature in their first World Cup since 1996    Getty Images
United Arab Emirates will feature in their first World Cup since 1996 Getty Images

As the road to the ICC World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand nears its destination, the teams are gearing up for the ultimate battle. All 14 nations have announced their final 15-member squads for the mega event. Though not one of the favourites, UAE may turn out to be giant killers on their day. Ayush Gupta takes a look at the 15-member squad and predicts its vulnerability.

UAE surprised everyone by replacing 43-year old Khurram Khan in great form with the bat and a successful captain with Mohammad Tauqir. Age cannot be cited as a reason for the decision, as Tauqir is 43 years old as well. Khurram will act deputy to Tauqir, whose experience is restricted to five matches.

Among batsmen, Andri Berenger, Saqlain Haider, Shaiman Anwar, Swapnil Patil and Amjad Ali are all decent choices. The Sri Lankan Berenger is in decent form; Haider has been handy with the bat in domestic levels and is reliable behind the stumps; Shaiman and Patil can both score quickly, but apart from Khurram, UAE will depend a lot on Amjad whose 392 runs have come at an average of 43.55 and a strike rate of 85.6.

UAE also boasts of all-rounders like Rohan Mustafa, Mohammad Naveed and Krishna Karate. Mustafa is a dependable batsman, but is more known as an accurate left-arm spinner: he has an economy rate of 4.00. While the power-hitter Naveed and the dependable Karate in the side, UAE is certain to provide exciting cricket.

The pace attack will be handled by Karate, Kamran Shahzad, Manjula Guruge, Fahad Alhashmi, Naveed and Amjad Javed. While UAE has a number of part-time spinners, Nasir Aziz, the only genuine spinner in the side is that of Nasir Aziz, has not been impressive at the highest level. Shahzad is yet to play international cricket, and will probably not be a part of the first XI, what with the string of all-rounders and Alhashmi around.

Having said that, UAE has one of the weaker teams in the World Cup. However, as discussed above, they have some decent players who can pull off a miracle or two on their day. Though they will be thrown to the lions in unfamiliar conditions Down Under, underestimate them at your own peril.

UAE Squad: Mohammed Tauqir (c), Khurram Khan (vc), Andri Berenger, Krishna Karate, Saqlain Haider (wk), Shaiman Anwar, Swapnil Patil, Rohan Mustafa, Kamran Shahzad, Manjula Guruge, Fahad Al Hashmi, Amjad Ali, Muhammad Naveed, Amjad Javed, Nasir Aziz.

(Ayush Gupta is a reporter at CricketCountry. A passionate supporter of Manchester United, he idolises Roger Federer)