It was a Pakistan vs Australia series in 2009 that was the launch pad for the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The ground was showcased to the world with that series 3 years ago, and its life will come a full circle when it hosts Pakistan and Australia again in a 3 match T20 series starting 5th September.
But before that, Pakistan and Australia take part in a 3 match ODI series that starts in two days in a stadium that is slowly making its way back to the international arena – Sharjah!
I grew up watching matches at the Sharjah stadium; it is the first cricket ground that I ever witnessed a match in; Pakistan has won a number of famous ODIs at the ground. So naturally it holds a special place in my heart.
Sharjah returned to the international scene after almost 8 years near the end of 2011 when it hosted an ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
England refused to play there, but the Australians don't have a problem and will be playing 2 of the 3 ODIs in Sharjah. Just not the one on Friday.
Cricket fans of the 80s and 90s would know that Sharjah, Friday, and Pakistan share a special bond that not many teams are fond of.
Just speaking of Sharjah brings back so many awesome memories for the Pakistan cricket fan.
It all started with the six that Javed Miandad hit off the final delivery of the match against India to win the game for Pakistan. Chetan Sharma might have done a lot in his career and his life, but he will always be remembered for bowling that full toss that Miandad dispatched over mid wicket.
Wasim Akram managed all bowled hatricks against the West Indies and against Australia.
Aqib Javed took an all LBW hatrick against India.
Waqar Younis uprooted Ian Bishop's middle stump off the final delivery of the match when West Indies needed 1 to tie and 2 to win the match.
Abdul Razzaq picked up 5 wickets as the last 8 Sri Lankan wickets fell for less than 20 runs resulting in Pakistan tieing a match that they should have lost.
Basit Ali smashed 5 sixes against the West Indies including a couple of Curtley Ambrose in a batting display that I had never witnessed against the Windies bowling attack of the early 90s.
Saeed Anwar scored 3 consecutive centuries, which at the time was a record held by only 1 other person (Zaheer Abbas) besides Anwar. Since then Gibbs and AB have both knocked 3 consecutive tons in ODIs.
Inzamam Ul Haq and Aamir Sohail were involved in a mammoth 200+ run partnership against New Zealand. Pakistan scored 330 odd and each of the batsmen got scores in the 130s.
I believe that majority of Pakistan's nerve wrecking ODI victories have come in Sharjah. It is almost as if there some magic force at the ground that always ensures that Pakistan comes back from no where to win a game that they looked like losing all along!
Nothing proves that more than the 4th ODI against Sri Lanka in the series played last year. International cricket returned to Sharjah after 8 years and once again Pakistan came out of no where to win the match.
This time it was Shahid Afridi doing the magic as Sri Lanka lost their last 7 wickets for 19 runs and got bowled out for 174. They were chasing 201 and were 155-3 in the 38th over before Afridi scalped the first of his 5 wickets!
International cricket resumes in Sharjah again on Tuesday as Pakistan take on Australia in the 1st match of the ODI series. The teams will also play the 3rd and final ODI of the series there on 3rd September.
Time for some Sharjah Magic!
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