Time for some Sharjah magic!

Published: August 27, 2012
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Last year in Sharjah, it was Shahid Afridi working his magic as Sri Lanka lost their last seven wickets for 19 runs and got bowled out for 174. PHOTO: REUTERS

It was a Pakistan vs Australia series in 2009 that was the launchpad for the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The ground was showcased to the world with that series three years ago. Its life will come a full circle when it hosts Pakistan and Australia again in a three-match T20 series starting September 5.

But before that, Pakistan and Australia take part in a three-match ODI series that starts today 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. Moreover, 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 eight 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 two of the three ODIs in Sharjah, with the exception of 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.

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.

Just speaking of Sharjah brings back so many cherished memories for the Pakistan cricket fan. Read below all the Pakistan cricket miracles that took place in Sharjah, just magnifying my love for the stadium and instilling my faith that Sharjah really is lucky for us:

Wasim Akram managed to successfully execute all bowled hat-tricks against the West Indies and against Australia.

Aqib Javed took an all LBW hat-trick against India.

Waqar Younis uprooted Ian Bishop’s middle stump off the final delivery of the match when West Indies needed just one run to tie, and two runs to win the match.

Abdul Razzaq picked up five wickets as the last eight Sri Lankan wickets fell for less than 20 runs resulting in Pakistan drawing a match that they should have lost.

Basit Ali smashed five sixes against the West Indies, including a couple of from Curtley Ambrose, in a batting display that I had never witnessed against West Indies’ bowling attack of the early 90s.

Saeed Anwar scored three consecutive centuries, which at the time was a record held by only one other person (Zaheer Abbas) besides Anwar. Since then, Gibbs and AB have both knocked three consecutive tons in ODIs.

Inzamamul Haq and Aamir Sohail were involved in a mammoth 200+ run partnership against New Zealand. Pakistan scored and odd 330 and each of the batsmen got scores in the 130s.

I believe that majority of Pakistan’s nerve-racking 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 were destined to lose.

Nothing proves that more than the 4th ODI against Sri Lanka in the series played last year. International cricket returned to Sharjah after eight years and once again Pakistan came out of no where to win the match.

This time it was Shahid Afridi working his magic as Sri Lanka lost their last seven wickets for 19 runs and got bowled out for 174. They were chasing a target of 201 and were 155-3 in the 38th over before Afridi scalped the first of his five 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 September 3.

Are you ready for some Sharjah magic, everyone?

Do you think the Pakistani team is well-prepared, going in to the tournament against Australia in Sharjah?

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Read more by Umair here or follow him on Twitter @WellPitched

umair.qazi

Umair Qazi

An investment advisor in Dubai who blogs at www.wellpitched.com/ and tweets @WellPitched

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