Tour Diary: Historical Sharjah stadium and walking down memory lane

As a fan and cricket lover, Sharjah Cricket Stadium holds a special place in my memory

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File photo of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia <strong>Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune</strong>

The entry to the media enclosure and diamonds pavilion at Sharjah Cricket Stadium Dhaka Tribune/Ali Shahriyar Bappa

As a 90s kid, Sharjah Cricket Stadium holds a lot of memories for me.

No, I have not been to Sharjah before nor have I seen any cricket match live here previously.

In fact, this is the first time I am in the United Arab Emirates, and I came here as a journalist to cover the T20 World Cup.

Bangladesh will be playing their first match of the Super 12 stage at Sharjah against Sri Lanka Sunday.

Although I have not been to Sharjah in my lifetime before, as a fan and cricket lover Sharjah Cricket Stadium holds a special place in my memory.

During the early 1990s, all the cricket series held in Sharjah meant something special.

The India-Pakistan matches, their rivalry within the 22 yards, all the tri-nation and ODI series featuring sub-continent teams and other sides during the 90s era; those matches hold special place among cricket fans all over the world.

Sharjah is famous for some of the greatest ODI matches ever played and stunning individual performances from modern day greats established this iconic stadium as one of the great venues. 

Legendary players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Saeed Anwar, Wasim Akarm, Waqar Younis, Inzamam ul Haq, Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralidaran, Mark Waugh, Shane Warne, Brian Lara; the list goes on and on, were enjoying their prime time in the late nineties. And their battles in the cricket field in that stadium in ODIs remain unforgettable among cricket fans.

Among many great performances in Sharjah, I can remember few matches instantly, that I witnessed live on TV.

Top of the list will be Sachin’s back-to-back hundreds against the Aussies, 143 off 131 balls in the Coca-Cola Cup semi-final on April 22, 1998 and 134 off 131 balls in the final on April 24.

Steve Waugh once said in an interview that those two Sachin tons were two of the greatest ODI knocks he had ever seen. 

Those two innings were magnificent indeed from the little master.

Shahid Afridi’s 92 ball 108 (eight sixes) against the Kiwis on April 15, 2002 was also a memorable one for me.

Jayasuriya’s 189 off 161 balls against India in 2000 was another masterclass in ODI batting.

Jayasuriya was stumped on 189 when 11 balls were still remaining in the innings and he missed the chance to break Anwar’s the then record of 194 in ODIs.

The Lankan also missed the opportunity to become the first double centurion in ODI cricket.

Cricket has changed now and T20s are widely regarded as the most popular format currently.

Cricket world has even seen T10s and 100-ball cricket in recent years.

But as a bit of an old school, 50-over games, particularly in the late nineties in Sharjah still make me nostalgic.

While covering the Bangladesh press conference before their match against Sri Lanka on Saturday in Sharjah Cricket stadium, and while walking in the stadium premises or looking at the venue from the press box, I was wondering of those cricket watching days on TV in the late 90s and early 2000s.

For a brief moment, I went back down memory lane and remembered those moments of excitement when I watched those close contested cricket matches on TV set along with my family.

I guess in the late nineties, when there was no internet or smartphone, watching cricket matches on TV with the family members was one of the fond memories for many of us.

Sharjah cricket stadium also holds a personal emotional connection with me as I have heard quite a few times from my father that he had worked at the Sharjah stadium in the early 80s during his seven years of stay in

If my father was alive today, he would have been nostalgic as well knowing his son is covering the T20 World Cup matches at Sharjah.

Over the past few decades, Sharjah has presented us countless unforgettable moments in 50-over cricket.

Let’s hope Sharjah brings some superb T20 matches in this year’s T20 World Cup as well.

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