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Ghosts of Sharjah - early 90s

Filed under: Sports by Hari
Posted on Fri, Nov 11, 2005 at 17:51 IST (last updated: Sun, May 24, 2009 @ 19:20 IST)

It's amusing how Ten Sports insists on dragging up old India-Pakistan encounters in Sharjah, going more than a decade into the past. Incidentally they invariably tend to show matches which India lost. And while I can understand that Ten Sports has limited footage of Cricket from the past in comparison to some of its competitors and is not a particularly India-friendly channel in this regard (take ESPN-Star in contrast - they actually have a regular series called India Glorious!), still, I don't think we need to keep seeing those old matches over and over again. It was even more amusing when they showed some matches of the more recent India's tour of Pakistan and insisted on showing the matches where India lost, for instance the ODI played at Peshawar! It is another matter that India drubbed Pakistan 3-2 in the ODIs and 2-1 in the Test Series - such a historic series it was and yet they can only pick on those games where Pakistan won. Oh, well!

Waqar Younis

Anyway, going back to Sharjah, it brought back memories of some of the lowest points in Indian cricket at that time. The infamous Aaqib Javed hat trick was one (I think I remember seeing that match). The Javed Miandad last ball six was another (I didn't watch this one, however). Watching those matches are depressing, in a sense because we can almost smell the Indian batsmen's fear of the Pakistan quickies, particularly Wasim and Waqar. Actually things weren't so bad for India going even back. But again, you wouldn't expect Ten Sports to show those games.

Whatever it was, it's an interesting exercise to compare the past with the present. To see where India went wrong in those days (of course, some might insist India agreeing to play at Sharjah might have been the biggest mistake). It was a very strong pro-Pakistani crowd back then and the umpiring was more than dubious. Some of the leg-before decisions that I recall were pathetic. And of course, Wasim and Waqar, not to mention Aaqib Javed were at the peak of their careers. Pakistan also seemed to have such a strong batting line-up and India seemed just mentally unprepared to challenge their hosts. We had a few bright spots now and then, but they were few, indeed.

Later on in the 90s, Sharjah became a more neutral venue, thanks mostly to the expatriate Indian population and the crowds were almost always 50-50. In spite of this, Pakistan continued to be successful there and India continued to have a bad time. And of course, other opponents like Sri Lanka began to emerge and they tormented the Indians on the slow pitches. Venkatesh Prasad and Srinath used to get clobbered mercilessly at the hands of Jayasuriya and Saeed Anwar and we didn't have too strong an attack to back them up either. Indian bowlers never could get used to the conditions there and the toss always seemed to be against India. And you had just a couple of fielders in Azharuddin and Jadeja who could lift the spirit of the team. Sachin Tendulkar carried the whole team on his shoulders in those days. Which reminds me, the only bright spot which remains in my memory for India at Sharjah is the glorious back-to-back centuries of Sachin against Australia in 1997-98 which helped India lift the Coca-Cola cup.

Of late, we rarely see any Cricket at Sharjah. The match-fixing and betting scandal ensured that India wouldn't play there any more. And Sharjah depends heavily on sub-continent participation to make a real success of a tournament. And Pakistan-Sri Lanka encounters, absorbing as they are, rarely reach the heights of an India-Pakistan classic. On the whole, maybe it is a good thing that India stopped playing at Sharjah some years back and allowed the team to shrug off the ghosts of the past. Having said that, maybe this present Indian team could go there without fear of failure. Pakistan sure isn't the same team that mentally dominated a beaten India ten years ago and the script could probably be rewritten today. It would be interesting indeed. I don't know when India would go back to Sharjah or whether they would at all, but who knows? Time will tell.

Picture Courtesy: in.sports.yahoo.com

2 comment(s)

  1. Well said. Ten Sports and Ten Cricket are extremely anti-Indian channels, especially Ten Cricket. These channels are owned by a Saudi millionaire, and blatantly broadcast anti-Indian content. Recently, Ten Cricket has been continuously broadcasting matches lost by India, not just in Sharjah, but everywhere else. This goes on for all 24 hours. They show all the matches where India had to face humiliating defeats more often. For e.g., just a couple of days back, they showed the India - Sri Lanka final of the Coca-Cola cup 2000, wherein India were bowled out for a paltry 54 runs while chasing a huge target of 300. Jayasuriya scored 189, and India lost by 245 runs, which was the world record for the largest margin of defeat, at that time. Ten sports showed this match THRICE in a day. So this is how Ten Cricket is trying to demean the Indians by continuously broadcasting matches lost by India, especially against Pakistan, and that too in Sharjah. I wonder how the I&B ministry is not taking any steps to curb this.

    Comment by Alok (visitor) on Wed, Jun 8, 2011 @ 17:02 IST #
  2. True, Alok. Quite right.

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Thu, Jun 9, 2011 @ 07:49 IST #

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