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Victory over Pakistan gave Sri Lanka their second Sharjah trophy in six months, though they never approached their dominance of the October tournament, when they won all five games and crushed India by a record 245 runs. This time it was Pakistan who coasted through the qualifiers undefeated, despite missing several key players, while Sri Lanka won only one match and squeezed into the final on net run-rate.
The third team should have been India, but they pulled out a week before the start after their government announced that, in the aftermath of match-fixing allegations, "the Indian team should not participate in tournaments at non-regular venues such as Sharjah, Singapore, Toronto etc, for at least three years." Former Pakistan captain Asif Iqbal, one of the Sharjah tournament's principal organisers, resigned, citing the problems caused by such political interventions. Still, plans had been laid in case of a withdrawal, and New Zealand accepted an invitation at very short notice. They were well below strength, partly through injuries, partly because their board used the opportunity to give experience to newer players. Craig McMillan led the side, as Stephen Fleming was about to join Middlesex for the English season. He won only one victory, against Sri Lanka, but the series was a triumph for opening batsman Mathew Sinclair, who scored 304 runs, including two centuries, at 101.33.
Pakistan also had a new captain, officially because Moin Khan had been injured during the New Zealand Tests, and Waqar Younis did well enough to be reappointed for the subsequent tour of England. He also took eight wickets, a total exceeded only by team-mate Saqlain Mushtaq and Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan, the world's leading off-spinners, who claimed nine each. Saeed Anwar was the highest run-scorer, with 328, and Inzamam-ul-Haq was named Man of the Series for his 290 at 96.66. Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya could not quite recapture his October form, but he and Mahela Jayawardene scored centuries in their first game against New Zealand, when Jayasuriya broke his own record for runs in an international over, hitting Chris Harris for 30.
Another consequence of India's late withdrawal was the loss of sponsors Coca-Cola. Their place was filled by ARY, a gold and jewelry business with television interests, who donated a gold trophy weighing one kilo.
Note: Matches in this section were not first-class.
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