Sharjah specials: First Asia Cup match, Sachin’s ‘Desert Storm’, Miandad’s last-ball six and more

Sharjah hosts its 281st international match - the most by any venue - with the Asia Cup 2022 Super 4 match between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan on Saturday.

Among his seven ODI centuries in Sharjah, Sachin Tendulkar’s two greatest knocks were born in the space of three days in April, 1998 at the iconic venue of the ‘90s.

Among his seven ODI centuries in Sharjah, Sachin Tendulkar’s two greatest knocks were born in the space of three days in April, 1998 at the iconic venue of the ‘90s. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Sharjah hosts its 281st international match - the most by any venue - with the Asia Cup 2022 Super 4 match between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan on Saturday.

The Sharjah Cricket Stadium will surpass the Sydney Cricket Ground with its 281st international match during the Asia Cup 2022 Super Four on Saturday.

With the Sri Lanka versus Afghanistan clash, Sharjah will become the stadium to host the most international cricket matches in the world. Sporstar takes a look at the most memorable matches played at the stadium.

The first-ever Asia Cup match

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, April 6, 1984 - Rothmans Asia Cup: On a sunny Friday, while Zaheer Abbas was the cynosure of all eyes, Sharjah was bustling as it hosted its first ODI - the Rothmans Asia Cup with Pakistan taking on Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka, led by Duleep Mendis asked Pakistan to bat first. Mohsin Khan and Saadat Ali gave Pakistan a bright start with an opening 59-run partnership. However, the fall of Mohsin saw Sri Lanka attack with spin and the Pakistan batsmen fell into Arjuna Ranatunga’s spin web. Although the batting crumbled, Zaheer Abbas lit the stadium with his batting fireworks with an enterprising 68-ball 47 to help Pakistan post 187/9 in 46 overs. Although Sri Lanka won the match, a batting great who finished with 53,717 runs across formats, once strolled out to paint the Sharjah canvas. Zaheer Abbas stole the thunder.

Arjuna Ranatunga during the First (inaugural) match of the Asia Cup against Pakistan in Sharjah.

Arjuna Ranatunga during the First (inaugural) match of the Asia Cup against Pakistan in Sharjah. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

India pulls off the greatest ODI defence in low-scoring thriller

India vs Pakistan, March 22, 1985: Rothmans Four-Nations Cup 

Imran Khan, a destined crowd-puller, a darling of hearts, charismatic with the bat and mesmerising with the ball. His heroic mannerisms on and off the field, not just won hearts but six Indian wickets on March 22, 1985.

The elements of nature fell into the charm of Imran’s aura, and he amplified it by trapping Ravi Shastri for a duck. What followed was mayhem. Kris Srikkanth, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sunil Gavaskar and by castling Mohinder Amarnath, Imran recorded a majestic five-wicket haul. To add the cherry on top, the legendary all-rounder fished out Madan Lal to end up with a six-wicket haul (10-2-14-6) - his Best Bowling Match figures (BBM) in ODIs to bowl out India for 125. Celebrations in Pakistan and Sharjah had started, only to be doused by yet another legendary all-rounder in Kapil Dev, who led from the front with a three-wicket haul.

Kapil rubbed his swag in the right way as L. Sivaramakrishnan and Ravi Shastri lured the Pakistani batsmen with their guile and turn, only for a brief romance as the duo shared four wickets among themselves to puncture the defence of the famed Pakistani line-up. A section of the crowd found their voice again as India defended a low total, beating Pakistan by 38 runs. This win would go on to inspire generations, but the Sharjah Cricket Stadium already had numerous footprints of Imran, Kapil, Gavaskar and many other legends who are still treasured in the annals of cricketing history. Imran Khan was the player of the match but India snatched a memorable victory. Ask Sharjah, it witnessed both history and celebrations.

India pulled off the lowest-total ever defended in ODI history in a match where two all-round greats - Imran Khan and Kapil Dev - shone for their respective teams.

India pulled off the lowest-total ever defended in ODI history in a match where two all-round greats - Imran Khan and Kapil Dev - shone for their respective teams. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

That Miandad last-ball six!

Austral-Asia Cup, India vs Pakistan Final, Sharjah, April 18, 1986

It was yet another showdown in Sharjah and this time Javed Miandad had the last laugh with a last-ball six off Chetan Sharma. Numerous stories have been told in the past and they continue to be narrated in the same breath. A yorker went wrong and that six from Miandad is probably still one of the talking points in Pakistan’s cricketing history.

Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth gave India a fine start with a 117-run opening partnership with the former falling eight runs short of a well-deserved century. Dilip Vengsarkar provided the flourish with a half-century to propel India to 245/7. Madan Lal and Sharma got quick breakthroughs but Miandad dropped anchor. With a brilliant 116 off 114 deliveries, Miandad was a man on a mission and the last-ball six sealed not only a famous win for Pakistan but also established his place in history.

Javed Miandad in action during the Austral-Asia final against India.

Javed Miandad in action during the Austral-Asia final against India. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Tendulkar rages in ‘Desert Storm’

Coca-Cola Cup, Australia vs India, Sharjah, April 22, 1998

Sachin Tendulkar tore apart Australia with a magnificent (143, 131b, 9*4, 5*6) and helped India qualify for the final. In what is considered one of his best knocks, Tendulkar singlehandedly shouldered the run-chase amid a desert storm under the Sharjah lights.

A sandstorm disrupted India’s chase but not Tendulkar’s concentration. Chasing 276, India lost Sourav Ganguly early. Pinch-hitter Nayan Mongia offered some support but the fall of Mohammad Azharuddin only made Tendulkar more resolute. The Australians were reduced to mere wax statues as the Master Blaster smashed a brilliant century. Dancing down the track to Shane Warne, driving Daniel Fleming to the fence and with some audacious sixes, Tendulkar simply dismantled Australia.

India lost the match but it was possibly one of the finest moments in ODI cricket. Sharjah was up on its feet, applauding every shot that Tendulkar played. Two days later, on his 25th birthday, Tendulkar smashed yet another majestic century - 134 in the final to gift India the Coca-Cola Cup cup with a six-wicket win. From that moment, India cried and smiled whenever Tendulkar took guard.

On his 25th birthday, Tendulkar smashed yet another majestic century - 134 in the final to gift India the Coca-Cola Cup cup with a six-wicket win.

On his 25th birthday, Tendulkar smashed yet another majestic century - 134 in the final to gift India the Coca-Cola Cup cup with a six-wicket win. | Photo Credit: V.V. KRISHNAN

Jayasuriya blitz stuns India

Coca-Cola Champions Trophy, Sri Lanka vs India, October 29, 2000, Sharjah

Sanath Jayasuriya sent the Indian bowling attack on a leather hunt and put on a batting exhibition in the final of the Coca-Cola Champions Trophy. Such was his influence on the game that Sri Lanka defeated India by a massive 245 runs. The Indian bowlers got breakthroughs but Jayasuriya found a partner in Russel Arnold and hammered a breathtaking 161-ball 189.

Sanath Jayasuriya hammered the Indian attack with a cracking 189 in the final of the Coca-Cola Champions Trophy.

Sanath Jayasuriya hammered the Indian attack with a cracking 189 in the final of the Coca-Cola Champions Trophy.

Chasing a tall target of 300, Chaminda Vaas proved to be the wrecker-in-chief with a five-wicket haul and Muthiah Muralidaran took three as India was bundled out for 54 in 26.3 overs. Only Robin Singh managed to get to double digits scoring 11 runs. Jayasuriya rescued his team with a blazing knock and Vaas broke India’s batting spine as Sri Lanka won the triangular cup.

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