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World Cup 2015 Team Profile: UAE out there to enjoy, Ireland to surprise

To qualify for the World Cup after almost two decades itself is an achievement for the UAE while Ireland will want to be known more than just party poopers.

Vivek Mishra |Cricketnext |February 1, 2015, 1:07 PM IST
World Cup 2015 Team Profile: UAE out there to enjoy, Ireland to surprise

The 2007 ICC World Cup was not a memorable experience for India and Pakistan. Both teams visited the Caribbean with high hopes but were knocked out of the first round of the event. One of the major reasons for their early exit was their unexpected loss against the minnows. India suffered a five-wicket defeat against Bangladesh while Ireland produced one of the greatest victories in cricket history by beating Pakistan on St Patrick's Day.

While performances like these happen once in a while, we cannot rule out the possibility of 'smaller teams' spoiling the party of some of their 'Big Brothers'.

Ireland have been so impressive in last two World Cups, beating Pakistan in 2007 and England in 2011, that if they beat another Test-playing nation, it won't be a shock. But they will be playing without their flamboyant batsman Eoin Morgan who has decided to come out for England and will also be captaining them.

It's a first for the UAE since 1996 when they first played in the 50-over World Cup and the team from the Emirates will try to give their best to get noticed at the top level. UAE, the last to book a World Cup berth for this edition, are captained by a 43-year-old and their 15-man squad features nine players over the age of 30.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths: Ireland won the 2008 World Twenty20 Qualifier and the 2009 World Cup Qualifier en route to qualifying for the 2009 and 2010 World Twenty20 tournaments as well as the 2011 and 2015 World Cups. They have also applied for full membership of the International Cricket Council to become a permanent ODI-playing nation and their performance in the World Cup could also make a strong case for them to be given Test status, though that's a bit far-fetched at the moment. Ireland have got a world-class fielding side and due to their T20 experience, they have also got the ability to score runs at a quick pace.

The UAE are coached by 1992 World Cup-winning Pakistan pacer Aqib Javed and his experience of Australian conditions will be helpful for the team. They have got nothing to lose and the tag of being the weakest team in the event could also work in their favour as they have no pressure to perform and can play their natural game.

Weaknesses: Batting still remains one of the big problems for the Ireland team. They need their top order to give them solid starts from where they can go on to set or chase competitive totals. Ireland have been able to bowl out their opponents for small totals but on most occasions have struggled to chase it down, with major chunk of scoring done by their lower middle order batsmen.

The biggest weakness of the UAE is lack of professional cricketers. Unlike other teams, they have very few full-time players and most of them are part-timers drawn from Pakistan and India. UAE's bowling is also a concern with only one quality pacer in the squad in the form of Mohammad Naveed.

Opportunities: UAE are five-time winners of the Asian Cricket Council Twenty20 Cup and have also participated in the Asia Cup twice. They will have their best chance to get a positive result against Zimbabwe and Ireland, their opponents in their first two games.

Ireland are a well-drilled unit and most of their players have got county experience. Their best opportunity also will be against the Zimbabwe and the UAE but on their day they can upset any big team in their group.

Threats: Ireland's biggest enemy could be their graph of expectations. No doubt they would want to be known more than just party poopers, but the team will have to play to its strengths and not weigh itself down with the burden of expectations to go to the next level.

UAE are virtually without any threats. They probably know that to qualify for the Cup after almost two decades is itself an achievement for them. What comes after this is possibly wins against fellow Associate nations in the group, as beating Test nations will be a destination bit too far for them to travel in this edition.

Star Players/Surprise Packages

Kevin O'Brien (Ireland): Kevin 's 113-run knock, which gave Ireland a historic win over England in the 2011 Edition, was not only the fastest World Cup hundred ever but also the highest successful run chase (327) in the tournament's history. He is an integral part of the Ireland squad and will be a crucial player to determine how far his team is going this time around. He is a solid right-arm middle-order batsman and a right-arm fast-medium bowler. Kevin's ability to perform under pressure makes him an asset for the team.

William Porterfield (Ireland): William Porterfield will be captaining Ireland at the World Cup, his third appearance in the tournament. He has been a consistent player for Ireland and is country's top run-scorer in both ODI and T20I cricket. Porterfield has played 73 ODIs and has scored 2137 runs at an average of 30.97 which also includes six centuries and ten fifties. "We've produced some wonderful performances over the years in World Cups, and there's no reason why we can't claim further successes in Australia and New Zealand," said Porterfield about Ireland chances in the event.

Mohammed Tauqir (UAE): Tauqir was appointed as UAE's captain replacing fellow 43-year-old, Pakistani Khurram Khan, who had led the side for six years. Tauqir has played in 50 international matches, but just five ODIs. On his ODI debut, in the 2004 Asia Cup against India, he scored 55 off 73 balls and claimed 1 for 46 with his accurate right-arm off-spin.

Khurram Khan (UAE): Khan is one of the most experienced players in the UAE squad and will be key to his team's chances. The vice-captain has played 10 ODIs and averages over 50 with the bat and has a century and three fifties to his name. He has also taken 12 wickets at an average of 31.66. Khan had also captained the UAE team in the 2014 T20I World Cup Qualifiers.

Chances in Group B: Ireland and UAE will undoubtedly find it tough with the likes of West Indies, South Africa, India and Pakistan in their group. For UAE, a win in the group stage would be a great boost to their confidence and their best chance will be against the struggling Zimbabwe side.

Ireland, on the other hand, have the potential to upset any big team but it is highly unlikely that they would make it to the knockout stages.

Squads

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

Ireland: William Porterfield(c), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Andrew McBrine, John Mooney, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien(wk), Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4659 119
2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 England 4366 104
4 South Africa 3177 102
5 Australia 3270 99
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 9349 260
see more