Winner: India

Coca-Cola Cup (Sharjah), 1997-98

Three days before the start of this three-nation competition, India and Australia had been contesting the final of another, the Pepsi Triangular Series, in Delhi. The similarities between the two events extended beyond the sponsors' products. In India, the home team went undefeated until losing the final to Australia: in Sharjah, it was Australia's turn to win all the qualifying matches, only to succumb to India when it mattered.

And, in both events, one Indian batsman stood over above the others. Where Ajay Jadeja had shone to India, so Sachin Tendulkar did in Sharjah. He particularly relished the Australian bowling, with scores of 80, 143 and 134 - each hit at more than a run a ball. In five innings he amassed 435 runs at 87.00. His genius pulled India through into the final and then guided them to victory. The other batsman to enjoy his stint in the desert was Michael Bevan. Until Tendulkar's flourish in the last two matches, he had hogged the batting headlines with a run of consistent scores, accumulating 276 at 92.00.

Unlike the other two teams, New Zealand had no great batting hero. Their fielding was magnificent, but a lack of nerve meant that promising positions were squandered. Batting conditions improved steadily throughout the tournament, ensuring that no bowler ever got on top. Damien Fleming came closest and was pronounced the bowler of the series for taking ten wickets at 15.60.

This was the first Sharjah tournament in ten years not to include Pakistan. Worries over attendance were partly justified for the games not involving India, but 90,000 were thought to have attended the seven matches, including a record 24,000 for the final.

Note: Matches in this section were not first-class.

Match reports for

1st Match: India v New Zealand at Sharjah, Apr 17, 1998
Report | Scorecard

2nd Match: Australia v New Zealand at Sharjah, Apr 18, 1998
Report | Scorecard

3rd Match: Australia v India at Sharjah, Apr 19, 1998
Report | Scorecard

4th Match: India v New Zealand at Sharjah, Apr 20, 1998
Report | Scorecard

5th Match: Australia v New Zealand at Sharjah, Apr 21, 1998
Report | Scorecard

6th Match: Australia v India at Sharjah, Apr 22, 1998
Report | Scorecard

Final: Australia v India at Sharjah, Apr 24, 1998
Report | Scorecard

© John Wisden & Co
 
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