IPL 2014

Remembering Desert Storm, 16 years on

Our ESPNcricinfo correspondent revisits the scene of one of India's most celebrated ODI triumphs

Karthik Krishnaswamy in Sharjah

April 23, 2014

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Shane Warne greets Sachin Tendulkar after India's victory in the final, Australia v India, Sharjah, April 24, 1998
Shane Warne congratulates Sachin Tendulkar after that innings © AFP
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Mitchell Johnson dug it in short, and Karn Sharma swatted at the ball more in hope than with any idea of where he wanted to hit it. The ball soared over the roof of the East Stand and fell somewhere on the street beyond. It would have been a memorable sight, had it not been the third time in the match that a six had flown out of the ground. It was the 17th six of the match.

Exactly 16 years ago, when cricket bats weren't so springy and sixes weren't so plentiful, back when sixes still had the power to thrill you, there had been a famous match in Sharjah- an ODI between India and Australia. Sachin Tendulkar had struck five sixes that day, sending the commentators into paroxysms of excitement, during an innings of 143 that is among his most talked-about centuries in coloured clothes. It was a century made in swirling dust and came to be known as "The Desert Storm".

Next to me, 16 years later, sits a man who was here, at this ground, when Tendulkar played that innings. Madhu, now a 41-year-old systems administrator had just moved to Sharjah from Hyderabad back in 1998.

To someone who, to his eternal regret, went off to sleep as soon as Ajay Jadeja was dismissed, and therefore missed the most exciting bits of Tendulkar's innings, this man seems incredibly blessed. He didn't just watch all of the innings when it happened; he was only 75 or so yards away and, in all probability, dancing in the aisles.

"I don't remember too much, actually," he says, when pressed for details. "It happened such a long time ago."

No, you want to tell him. It didn't happen a long time ago. It only happened in 1998.

There is enough evidence right here, though, that it happened way back in 1998. Tom Moody, who took two wickets that day, is now Hyderabad's coach. VVS Laxman, who was mostly a spectator in a 104-run partnership with Tendulkar, is one of their mentors.

Madhu puts his arm around the boy seated next to him, a boy who is possibly six feet tall. "This is Nikhil, my brother's son. He was just one year old then."

Some people, then, have grown older. But the stadium itself, Madhu says, hasn't changed too much, underneath all the IPL branding.

"They've put in new seats, but otherwise everything is pretty much the same. In those days, the Indians and Pakistanis used to sit in different stands. They wouldn't mingle too much. And back then," he says, pointing at the VIP boxes to our left, "a lot of Bollywood actors would sit there." That certainly hasn't changed.

Above us, the long-stemmed ceiling fans also look like they have been here for decades, and haven't been dusted all that often in that time. The area outside the stadium, too, can't have changed too much. It's clearly not undergone any sort of gentrification. There are a couple of tyre shops right next to the stadium, and the streets in the vicinity are full of shops selling spare parts, sanitary ware, floor tiles and diesel generators.

 
 
Sachin Tendulkar had struck five sixes that day, sending the commentators into paroxysms of excitement, during an innings of 143 that is among his most talked-about centuries in coloured clothes. It was a century made in swirling dust and came to be known as "The Desert Storm"
 

The main stadium road is called Second Industrial Street. You can watch streams of cars go down it, if you turn to your right from the Members' Enclosure. Back in the 90s, TV broadcasts of Sharjah matches would often cut to the traffic, and it looked just as it does even now. Unless it is a strange trick of the memory.

Tendulkar's 143, and his 134 in the final two days later, won India a trophy named after a fizzy drink. The IPL's main sponsor is the rival fizzy drink. Tendulkar also won a car for his efforts, and the entire team piled into it after the presentation ceremony to drive a couple of laps around the outfield.

Photographs from India's celebrations contain one face that was then considered exotic: Andrew Kokinos, the team's Australian physiotherapist. Sixteen years later, seven of the eight IPL teams have foreign head coaches.

Everything, then, is different, but Tendulkar's 143 still resonates well with most. At one point, during Glenn Maxwell's manic innings, the words Desert Storm had flashed on the replay screen in big bold capital letters. Sure, this is the desert, and it's become something of a cliché, but you'd like to think the guy keying in the text wouldn't have reached for it if it hadn't been for the original Desert Storm.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (May 3, 2014, 9:12 GMT)

i saw that match when i was preparing for my medical exams.sachins inning was extraordinary so was tony gregs commentry.clearly nostalgic feeling

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (April 29, 2014, 20:19 GMT)

The Desert Storm matches got me HOOKED to cricket for life !!! I was only 15 yrs old then and can never forget how Sachin mesmerized me with his majestic strokeplay. I even asked my father - "Daddy, is Sachin a human ?". He replied - "No, he's a God in human form playing cricket !". Goosebumps !!!!

Posted by siddhartha87 on (April 24, 2014, 8:30 GMT)

only Kohli's twin 100s against Australia in last home series is better than desert storm of 98

Posted by Pacelikefire_Samrat on (April 24, 2014, 7:53 GMT)

I will never forget Tony Greig's immortal,"They are dancing in the aisles"...It still reverberates in my ears...still gives me goosebumps everytime I watch the highlights on t.v"Saaaachin Tendolkar...what a batsman".Immortalized.RIP Tony.

Posted by Kasunliya9 on (April 24, 2014, 4:40 GMT)

You can't forget Lara @ Sharjah too.... 153 vs Pakistan in Pepsi final 1993/94 & 169 off 129 balls vs Sri Lanka.....

Posted by   on (April 23, 2014, 19:01 GMT)

can't even remember any sharjah match without tony greig commentary

Posted by   on (April 23, 2014, 13:17 GMT)

Tony Greig made it more exciting back then. Nowadays commentators lack that aura.

Posted by EverybodylovesSachin on (April 23, 2014, 12:51 GMT)

I still watch these innings every month love everything about it.

Posted by   on (April 23, 2014, 12:40 GMT)

@partha19, please read why Sachin's innings was called desert storm..not only because it was played in Sharjah but there was an actual desert storm during that innings and the play was stopped for sometime. but Sachin was unstoppable

Posted by farzan11 on (April 23, 2014, 12:39 GMT)

still get goosebumps watching the 2 great innings of the master..... May GOD hail SACHIN always !!!!! Still can feel the famous line " What a Shot.. What a Genius !!!!! Sachiiiin Tendulkar " from the great late Tony Greig on every Sachin masterstrpke of a shot....

Posted by SamWintson92 on (April 23, 2014, 12:31 GMT)

1. I have seen the match in highlights a lot of times in cricket classics in TV. Sadly I was very little in 1998 to watch the match live. 2. Tendulker was in the form of his life, sublime form during 1998-1999-2000 phase. That 143 innings possessed 5 sixes. 3. I remember a lot of ODIs used to happen in Sharjah in the late 90s specially the Ind-Pak. ODI cricket was of totally different taste. Go aggressive in the first 15 overs with field restriction & again last 10 overs of death and in between after 30 overs balls tend to reverse swing which Wasim, Waqar & Shoaib used to extract. 4. Now ODI is different with 20 overs of powerplay, 2 new balls & only 4 fielders when powerplay isn't on. The old rule was more exciting. 4. Coming back to the match, the desert storm hit the ground & all the players got laid in the ground. 5. Many players have great Sharjah history from Tendulker at the top, Ganguly, Dravid, A Jadeja, Wasim, Waqar, Afridi (became star in late 90s), Shoaib, Nazir etc.

Posted by   on (April 23, 2014, 12:25 GMT)

Wow can still see the face of Mike Kasprowich after Sachin hit him for a straight six. Can still feel the edge of the seat excitement.

Best of all .. Sachin hunched down mid pitch .. against the swirling wind laden with sand .. immovable .. determined ... it was poetry ... what a man ... what a moment.

Posted by   on (April 23, 2014, 10:48 GMT)

If i think of the year 1998. First thing i get the picture of the two best innings played by sachin. I was in 9th std back then.... I stilll remember the two innings sachin played. Even though we lost......the famous desert storm innings of 143 was the best by sachin... And that was the time when he was in is prime form and against theeee best bowling attacks.....

Posted by Rahul_78 on (April 23, 2014, 10:25 GMT)

Back then things were real. Karan Sharmas mis hit wouldnt have gone out of the stadium and cricket wasnt certainly called and meant to be a circus!

Posted by   on (April 23, 2014, 9:22 GMT)

I was present in the stadium for 'The Desert Storm' innings and also the subsequent 134 in the finals. The Desert Storm was something unimaginable in those days. The people around me were dancing and jumping all the time and all I could hear above the crowd's noise was 'Thwack' the ball hitting the sweet spot of the bat.... Some innings, Some Player...LEGEND...

Posted by Kasunliya9 on (April 23, 2014, 8:51 GMT)

"Back when sixes still had the power to thrill you" IPL & Indian pitches has destroyed the power of sixes....too bad. And back then cricket was real!

Posted by Haleos on (April 23, 2014, 8:12 GMT)

@Sumeet.Gupta - I am not surpirsed about who the umpire was. India has suffered a lot in Sharjah. There is a famous saying : Pakistan played with 13 players then. Not 100% correct of course but some decisions did seem not right. 3 LBWs ina row for Aaqib Javed for instance. He was a good bowler but not a mcgrath to get 3 balls on stumps in a row. IPL should have been played in Bangladesh, Zimbabwe or Nepal. Give those countries some financial boost.

Posted by Pathiyal on (April 23, 2014, 8:04 GMT)

watched that match in sharjah not in a cricket stadium but in our tv showroom with many big sized screens shutters down. unofficial holiday with all of us staring at the screens to really make us believe what we were watching was something for real to say the least. more than the unmatchable talent the legend possessed, it was a display of character...the benchmark set by him that day is hard to be reached. cricket got miles richer that day and on the day of the finals. how can one ever forget those innings! i felt the whole cricket fraternity paused breathing that day watching the greatest cricket putting up his greatest performance.

Posted by   on (April 23, 2014, 7:22 GMT)

That 143 was one hell of an innings....

Posted by Sumeet.Gupta on (April 23, 2014, 6:48 GMT)

I have a couple of things to share, i was 17 then. Tendulkar was given harsh decisions in both the matches - in the qualifying one, the ball was definitely above his shoulder height and hence a no-ball (according to the rules prevalent then). Even then, he walked himself and was not given out by Ian Robinson. Had he stayed put, as is the norm now-a-days, India would have definitely won the match because Aussie attack was rendered helpless. And then in the final, he was given LBW to Kasprowicz who was bowling from round the wicket and hence the ball pitched wayyy outside the leg stump, the umpire being the 'famous' Pakistani Javed Akhtar.

Posted by ultimatechamp_1 on (April 23, 2014, 6:00 GMT)

i too remember that innings, i was in class 8th then , watched all the actions live. Tony Greig's commentary was exceptional too. i havent seen tendulkar bat so freely in a do or die match ever again. India lost that match but acheived the qualifying target to go to the finals and face Australia again.

Posted by Jay.Raj on (April 23, 2014, 5:52 GMT)

i wasnt born at that time

Posted by partha19 on (April 23, 2014, 5:51 GMT)

I have been watching cricket since early 70s and with due respect to Sachin's innings .. the writer shouldn't undermine Maxi's barrage of sixers as he showed us whats T20 cricket is all about... it was not just power hitting but very innovative ones too... btw if we are talking about desert storm the first one i saw was during Javed miandad's innings against India when Pakistan was in impossible position to win and then came the desert storm in the form of final ball six from Javed's blade....

Posted by Amrutham on (April 23, 2014, 5:41 GMT)

This innings is my favorite, still remember the way he was disappointed after getting out before winning the match. The followed batsman was kanitkar who never showed any hurry in winning as India was already qualified for the Finals!! The next day in my Social class at school, my sir told that Sachin played well and in history he never scored consecutive centuries and we have less chance of winning the Giant Ausies, I was very angry on him......But Sachin proved wrong again and i was overwhelmed for the award and car u won ...Great Mad days those were...Love u Sachin..Advance Birthday day wishes…

Posted by   on (April 23, 2014, 5:26 GMT)

It's the best of Sachin. Respect... :)

Posted by   on (April 23, 2014, 5:26 GMT)

I was in class 8th and there was a cable black out so we could not get the images live on our TV, what we managed to get was the amazing commentary of Tony Grieg and team. The excitement delivered in the voices was something enthralled all of us listening to it.When we did watch the Highlights later and Sachin's Innings of the Finals we could very well imagine why Tony Grieg was so excited while commentating. My fav line from his commentary was " he is half his size" when Tendulkar smashed Moody for a straight six.

Posted by   on (April 23, 2014, 4:49 GMT)

I finished my II PU Sanskrit Exam in a record 2 Hours and a bit... and then rushed home to catch That Match... It seems just like yesterday...

Posted by YSKVRISHI on (April 23, 2014, 4:06 GMT)

The time i was in my tenth class and 26th of April one competitive exam is there. I was jumped my hostel gate and i saw that match up to 12.30pm. On 24th apr on sachin birthday and he got 5 awards for man of the match, man of the series, fastest 50, 100, max no. of sixes. i still remember each movement of the match.

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