Five key UAE cricketers who could fill the void left by retired Khurram Khan
Finding a like-for-like replacement for the retired Khurram Khan, the UAE’s finest cricketer, is an impossible job.
Given that three players – a leader, a batsman and a spin bowler – will be required to cover his loss, several players could have a key role to play in the post-Khurram era.
Mohammed Tauqir, off spinner, captain
Tauqir, the longest-serving UAE cricketer, took over from Khurram as captain just before the start of the 50-over World Cup this year.
Despite his controversial appointment, as well as his advanced years (at 43, he is only six months younger than Khurram) the off-spinner performed well in Australia and New Zealand. His leadership will be crucial in Scotland and Ireland.
Ahmed Raza, left-arm spinner
The UAE-born spin bowler had for so long seemed Khurram’s heir apparent as the captain of UAE, then Tauqir made a comeback and Raza was shuffled out of the World Cup squad entirely. Raza clearly feels passionately for the cause. He took annual leave and flew to the World Cup as a supporter at his own expense. He has been restored to the squad for this trip, but it is unclear whether he is as sure about his role as before.
Fayyaz Ahmed, left-arm spinner
Another player who was unlucky to miss out after years of sterling service when the national team played on the top stage. Fayyaz was overlooked in favour of a teenager when the UAE played at the World Twenty20 last year. His big hitting in the late-middle order, allied to his left-arm spin, makes him an attractive option in the 20-over format.
Swapnil Patil, middle-order batsman
Highly regarded by coach Aaqib Javed, who wants Swapnil, Shaiman Anwar and Saqib Ali, the experienced middle-order core, to take on the responsibility for run-scoring in the same way Khurram did so regularly. Swapnil has been in prime form of late, with a century against a Scotland XI and half-centuries against Ireland and South Africa.
Saqib Ali, middle-order batsman
Saqib is intent on making up for lost time and lost opportunities. He has been the most reliable batsman in the UAE, along with Khurram, for much of the past decade.
He missed the World Twenty20 with a back injury, missed out on a Bangladesh Premier League contract because of a visa issue and was omitted from this year’s 50-over World Cup. Time is running out for the 37-year-old batsman.
Follow us on Twitter at NatSportUAE
Updated: July 8, 2015 04:00 AM