Indian cricket lovers have many unhappy memories of Sharjah, going back to Javed Miandad's last-ball six off Chetan Sharma in April 1986. But Mohammad Azharuddin and his team did much to exorcise the ghost in 1998, and Sachin Tendulkar was the chief exorcist. He had scored two centuries here in April and now added two more, piling up 274 runs at an average of 91.33, and handing India their second desert trophy in seven months.
Unexpectedly, the other finalists this time were Zimbabwe - who reinforced their growing sense of self-belief which had helped them to a remarkable Test win over India the previous month. They beat India again in an inconsequential league game, after both had already qualified, before surrendering to Tendulkar's brilliance in a ten-wicket final defeat. But Sri Lanka, the World Cup holders, lost all their four matches in a shocking slump in form. Most of the time, the Sharjah stadium's pitches held fewer runs than usual, and the bowlers, especially the spinners, were hard to get away. But the result was a series of entertaining contests and a good advertisement for the one-day game.
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