What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think India v Pakistan in the UAE? Javed Miandad, Chetan Sharma and the unforgettable Sharjah six? Kapil Dev waking his deflated team-mates up in the dressing room before famously defending a paltry 125 to win the Rothmans Cup? The packed Sharjah crowd giving India the shivers?
The rivalry in the 1990s was slightly different. ESPNcricinfo revisits a few clashes from the 1990s to the early 2000s, when the two sides last met on these shores.
Ravi Shastri, Sanjay Manjrekar and an 18-year-old Sachin Tendulkar defied a fiery attack of Wasim Akram, Aaqib Javed and Imran Khan, before relaxing a wee bit. Then they saw an equally fiery 18-year old Waqar Younis, who had debuted in the same Test as Tendulkar in 1989, reverse swing the ball wildly at searing pace.
Manjrekar and Tendulkar had added 85 for the fourth wicket and India were cruising at 219 for 3 in their chase of 258, when Akram dismissed Manjrekar and Kapil Dev off successive deliveries. Tendulkar then took the bowlers on to bring India to within 17 of the target before being the sixth wicket to fall. India eventually needed 12 off the final over, bowled by Waqar. It was nearly pitch dark and fans put on their torches in the stands to enhance fading light.
Waqar's late reverse and Kiran More's wild heaves allowed India with a slim chance. They needed five to win, but even a tie would've ensured an India win on account of fewer wickets lost. More swings and misses, and Pakistan had scampered home by four runs. Two days later, Aaqib rocked India by picking up 7 for 37, including a hat-trick that accounted for Shastri, Mohammad Azharuddin and Tendulkar, as Pakistan won by 72 runs to emerge champions.
Twenty-five years after their first ODI, India became the ninth Test nation to breach the 300-run mark for the first time. This was achieved courtesy a breathtaking 231-run second-wicket stand between Tendulkar and Navjot Sidhu, who raised their eighth and sixth ODI centuries respectively. As effective as their partnership was, the final kick came courtesy Azharuddin's blistering 10-ball 29 not out. Twenty-four came off the final over bowled by Ata-ur-Rahman, who finished with 1 for 85 off his 10 overs. Pakistan were on course with brisk half-centuries from Aamer Sohail and Rashid Latif, but fell short by 28 runs.
Shahid Afridi, Saeed Anwar, Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam-ul-Haq were all gone inside 14 overs. Then India ran into Moin Khan and Salim Malik, who put together industrious half-centuries to set India 206, by no means an easy proposition against Akram, Waqar and Shoaib Akhtar, who was nearing the peak of his bowling prowess, having broken through just two years earlier. Amay Khurasiya lost his leg stump shuffling across to Shoaib. But S Ramesh and Rahul Dravid scored 82 and 81 respectively as India ended an eight-match losing sequence against Pakistan.
Two days later, they were in battle again for the final. With the World Cup just two weeks away, momentum was at stake, and Pakistan ran away with the contest from the first ball. Akram, who nearly didn't play because of high fever, dismissed Ramesh and Dravid inside the first over to set the tone for a collapse. India made 125, far from enough against a strong batting line-up; Pakistan won by eight wickets to lift the cup.
India and Pakistan were in the midst of an intense love affair. It was the cricketing equivalent of India-Sri Lanka bromance that bloomed a few years later. India had toured in 2004, Pakistan reciprocated in 2005. Then in January 2006, India toured again. So when the series was scheduled in April, it seemed insane on many counts, the harsh weather being the foremost reason.
This was also the first time the two sides were meeting in the UAE but not in Sharjah, at the brand new US$ 22 million Sheikh Zayed Stadium in the country's sprawling capital. Inzamam, who kept churning runs for fun against India during this period, made a match-winning 40 along with Younis Khan's 71 not out to win the first ODI. In the second match, Inzamam waged a lone battle to make 79 before his opposite number - Dravid - who also made a key 92 in India's 269 - ran Inzamam out to turn the game. His 100 metre Imran Tahir-like dash afterwards was the highlight of the series that finished 1-1.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo