They might be evenly matched for the upcoming one day series, but Pakistan cricket team has the edge over its Asian partners Sri Lanka, when it comes to playing in United Arab Emirates. Yes, the Pakistan side lost the very first encounter played between the two sides in Sharjah nearly 30 years back, but a lot has changed since. Both the teams won the World Cup in the 90s, produced cricketers who were labelled world-beaters and managed to clinch various trophies around the world. But when it comes to the UAE, the record favours the green! Don’t believe me? Read about the most memorable encounters between the two titans and decide for yourself!
The rise of Waqar Younis (29th April, 1990): He came, he bowled and he conquered… that’s how Waqar Younis’ first six-wicket haul would be remembered. The 6 for 26 came against a Sri Lankan side that featured Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva, Asanka Gurusinha and Hashan Tillakaratne. Chasing 312 to win in the league match of Austral-Asia Cup, the islanders had no match for the speed, the in-swingers and the toe-crushers bowled by the young Pakistani quickie. The Burewala Express helped Pakistan win the match by 90 runs!
The race to the century! (4th February, 1993): Every team in the world has an opener who is known for his hunger for runs -- in the 90s Pakistan had two -- Ramiz Raja and Saeed Anwar. Ramiz Raja became the first Pakistan to belt nine centuries during his ODI career before Saeed Anwar overtook him and managed to score as many as 20. In the final of the Wills Trophy, both the openers scored tons to set Sri Lanka 282 to win, and thanks to Wasim Akram’s 4 for 24, Pakistan managed to win the match by 114 runs, and clinch the trophy in the process.
Farewell Abdul Qadir (2nd November, 1993): The man who revived the dying art of leg-spin bowling in the 80s had his last bow against the mighty Sri Lankans at Sharjah. Chasing 270 to win, Pakistan managed to reach the target with 2 wickets to spare, thanks to Saeed Anwar’s fluent 111 off 104 deliveries. Abdul Qadir didn’t take a wicket but had the last laugh since he finished the match with 7 not out, that included a six on his final appearance!
All-round Aamer delivers! (12th October, 1995): Before the military coup of 1999, 12th October was remembered for Aamer Sohail’s heroics with the bat and the ball. The all-rounder not only added 107 runs for the opening partnership with Saleem Elahi (who managed 50), he went onto score 85 runs out of Pakistan’s 264. He ended any chances of a Sri Lankan win by claiming as many as four wickets with his left-arm spin, and clinched the Man of The Match award for his all-round performance in the 82-run victory.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane… it’s Popeye! (15th October, 1999): Spinach-eating Abdur Razzaq remains one of the best all-rounders produced by Pakistan and in the 3rd match of the Sharjah Cup in 1999, he proved his mettle. Set 197 to win, the Sri Lankans were dismissed for 196 runs, with Razzaq sending back half of the team. The match ended in a tie because Chamara Silva’s stumps were shattered by the all-rounder in the final over! Razzaq finished with the match-levelling figures of 5 for 31, and credited skipper Wasim Akram for believing in him.
A catch that shouldn’t have been! (22nd October, 1999): Just a week after Razzaq’s heroics, the two sides met again in the final of the event and Pakistan emerged victorious, thanks to a catch that gave headaches to the pundits of the game! Chasing 212 to win, Sri Lanka were cruising at 49-1 in the 10th over, when Aravinda de Silva edged an Abdur Razzaq delivery to the slips. Inzamam-ul-Haq fumbled the chance and fell on the ground, and the ball hit his trousers (which was in contact with the ground) in the process. The ball bounced back and Inzamam claimed the catch, since he believed it didn’t touch the ground at all. The decision was referred to the third umpire and de Silva was adjudged caught behind. Azhar Mahmood did the rest by taking five wickets (Sri Lanka managed only 123 runs), ensuring a victory for the Green-shirts by 88 runs.
Unlikely hero, unlikely victory! (2nd November, 2001): Set 273 runs to win the match, Pakistan were down by two wickets in the 10th over and the target seemed distant if not impossible. An unknown Naved Latif was batting alongside the always-cool Inzamam ul Haq and the required run rate was more than six runs per over. The dynamic duo batted themselves in till the 40th over and went berserk after that, scoring centuries enroute to victory. Naved managed 113 off 141 deliveries while Inzamam ended the match at 118 not out. Pakistan won the match in the last over by seven wickets and Sri Lankans were denied a victory yet again!
Yousuf, pacers at top of their game! (17th April, 2002): Yousuf Youhana’s 129 runs off 131 deliveries helped Pakistan post 295 runs against Sri Lanka in the final of the Sharjah Cup. The bowlers did the rest as they bowled out the hapless islanders for just 78 runs. Only three Sri Lankans managed to reach the double figures, such was the nature of the fiery bowling by the world’s finest. Skipper Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar finished with 3 wickets apiece, while 2 went to Wasim Akram.
Boom Boom goes ballistic! (18th May, 2007): The first T20 in the on-going series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka wasn’t the first time Shahid Afridi went ballistic against the Sri Lankans. He has been doing that since his fastest century in 1996, and in the first One-day International of the bilateral series in Abu Dhabi six years back, he came into his own when the team needed him the most. Chasing 236 to win, Pakistan lost half of their team for 137, and that was when Afridi went ‘boom boom’. His 73 not out off just 34 deliveries entertained the capacity crowd who witnessed their favourite cricketer blast four sixes and eight fours and Pakistan won the match by five wickets.