South Africa were impressive winners on their first visit to Sharjah, providing themselves with some compensation for the bitter disappointment of departing the World Cup at the first knockout stage after winning all their five round-robin matches by convincing margins. Here they were unbeaten and took their record for the 1995-96 season to 18 wins in 20 one-day internationals. They were a well-drilled side, whose bowling and fielding were several notches above those of their rivals, India and Pakistan. Their batting was consistent and enterprising and scored at an average of 62 runs per wicket and 5.6 an over.
India and Pakistan had just met in another triangular tournament in Singapore. There, Pakistan had triumphed; here, the balance tipped back towards India. Both were swept aside by South Africa, but they scored one win apiece against each other and India edged through to the final on net run-rate, thanks to a record-breaking total in their second encounter. It was the third time running that Pakistan failed to reach a final at Sharjah, where they once seemed near-invincible.
The start of the tournament was put back one day because of an official period of mourning for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalid al-Qassimi, a member of Sharjah's ruling family. He had been hit by a stray firework while attending a local football match in March; he was transferred to a hospital in Scotland, but later died of his injuries.
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