The Sharjah Cricket Stadium will be hosting three out of thirteen games in the Asia Cup. The desert venue of Sharjah has seen it all in the 80s and the 90s, the era with thrilling India-Pakistan games, Bollywood stars sharing stage with gangsters at stadiums, the post-game parties, and some exciting individual performances that have stood the test of time.
Out of the many memorable games, we’ve put together a top-five classics at the Sharjah.
The great Pakistan collapse
Fresh from their 1985 World Championship triumph, India defeated Australia in the final to won the four-nation Rothmans Cup. But it was the opening game against Pakistan which stole the thunder. As Kapil Dev ran in for the last time in the game to take the match winning wicket, a thunderous ovation went around the arena: “We are the champions, we are the champions!”
India was bowled out for a paltry 125 by Pakistan, with Imran Khan taking his career-best 6 for 14 in the ODIs. But somehow, India managed to win the match by 38 runs as Pakistan got bundled out for 87. Kapil Dev (3/17), Laxman Sivaramakrishnan (2/16), Ravi Shastri (2/17), Madan Lal (1/12) and Roger Binny (1/24) shared the spoils for India. Sunil Gavaskar took four catches in the slip cordon.
The Miandad moment
The image of Javed Miandad smashing Chetan Sharma’s low full-toss over the midwicket fence remains tattooed in the minds of fans from both sides of the border for different reasons.
With Pakistan needing four runs off the last ball, Miandad surveyed the field.
“I had a hunch he would bowl a yorker. What else could the poor lad try? I had decided I would step up just a shade to convert the length if the ball was dipping to the blockhole,” he would tell The Hindu. “I had an easy job. I got a juicy full toss … at no time I was nervous.”
His knock of 116 off 114 balls was an absolute masterpiece and it started the domination of Pakistan over India in this desert venue.
Austral-Asia Cup Final: All-round Akram stars for Pakistan
Pakistan defeated Australia by 36 runs to win the Austral-Asia Cup final in 1990. Wasim Akram was the star of the show for Pakistan. First with the bat, Akram smashed an unbeaten 35-ball 49 and helped Pakistan to reach a respectable total. Pakistan posted 266 for 7. Saleem Malik (87) was the top scorer for Pakistan.
In reply, Australia were off to a good start but they lost their openers David Boon (37) and Mark Taylor (52) to run outs. Steve Waugh (64) and Simon O’Donnell (33) kept the Aussies in chase but Mushtaq Ahmed (3/48) had some other plans. Wasim Akram finished things off with the second hat-trick of his career. He cleaned up Merv Hughes, Carl Rackemann, and Terry Alderman with his pin point yorkers on three successive deliveries.
The ‘Desert Storm’
In April 1998, the world witnessed one of Sachin Tendulkar’s great knocks as he smashed an incredible 143 against Australia. The knock is also known as the ‘Desert Storm’ to the millions, set to the memorable BGM from Tony Grieg’s ‘They are dancing in the aisles’.
The Coca-Cola Cup, a triangular series between India, Australia, and New Zealand is also remembered for Sachin Tendulkar’s methodical dismantling of Shane Warne.It was the knock that made Tendulkar the Greatest.
Before this match, India had won just one out of their three games, and New Zealand had won only one out of their four games and looked pretty much out of the tournament, clinging on to net run rate as their last hope. Australia had earned a place in the finals after winning all of their three matches.
Electing to bat first, Australians put up an intimidating 284 for 7 in their 50 overs.
A sandstorm disrupted India’s chase and the target was revised to 276 in 46 overs. Sachin would unleash a storm of his own to threaten to blow away Australia . With India needing 34 in 18 balls. Tendulkar was dismissed after a 131-ball 143, with 9 fours and 5 sixes, and India lost the game by 26 runs.
Brainfreeze moment for Indian batsmen
Sri Lanka defeated India by 245 in the final of the Coca Cola Champions Trophy in Sharjah. The architect was Sanath Jayasuriya who rescued an innings that was in doldrums with a breathtaking 189 from just 161 balls, steering his team to 299 in the allotted 50 overs.
Then, with India needing to score a mammoth 300 runs to win, Sri Lanka’s bowlers ripped through the top order. Chaminda Vaas finished with 5 for 14 from his 9.3 overs. India were 5 wickets down for 30 and Muttiah Muralitharan (3/6) had not even marked out his run.