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Dancing in the aisles in Sharjah

This week, we bring you unforgettable moments from the venue that's hosted more ODIs than any other

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Adam Hollioake led an experimental England side to victory in a four-nation Sharjah tournament in 1997  •  Getty Images

Adam Hollioake led an experimental England side to victory in a four-nation Sharjah tournament in 1997  •  Getty Images

This week's dose of YouTube therapy for these cricket-deficient times takes us back to the 1980s and 90s, when Sharjah hosted a proliferation of ODI tournaments that generated as much anticipation and excitement as T20 leagues do today
The iconic finishes
Sharjah shot to the limelight in 1986, when Pakistan needed four to win off one ball, and Javed Miandad swung Chetan Sharma off his hips and into the pages of folklore. For most of the next two decades, India and Pakistan simply couldn't stop meeting in Sharjah, with Bollywood stars (and even the infamous gangster Dawood Ibrahim) thronging the VIP gallery.
In 1995, Hashan Tillakaratne nearly pulled off a Miandad moment of his own, after scoring a valiant hundred that got Sri Lanka to the brink of victory in a record chase of 334 against West Indies. A West Indies victory looked a formality when they reduced Sri Lanka to 103 for 5, but Tillakaratne hadn't had his say yet.
The only tied matches in Sharjah also involved Sri Lanka. On both occasions, it was their match to win before they surrendered the initiative. In 1996, they restricted New Zealand to 169 but struggled in their chase, particularly against Danny Morrison. They looked to have won it when Chaminda Vaas took a single to level the scores, with two wickets and 15 balls remaining, but Sajeewa de Silva shouldered arms to Morrison, fatally, and Tony Greig wondered aloud: "Well, could this be a tie?"
Three years later, Sri Lanka gave away the game from an even better position, against Pakistan. Chasing 196, they were 157 for 1 with close to 15 overs remaining. Then Romesh Kaluwitharana was caught behind off Abdul Razzaq, and Sri Lanka collapsed spectacularly. Shoaib Malik removed the set Russell Arnold, before Wasim Akram and Razzaq cleaned up the rest of the line-up.
Geniuses at work
Lara made not one, but two 150-plus scores in Sharjah. Against Pakistan in 1993, his 153 at the top of the order enabled West Indies to chase down 285 with 4.3 overs remaining. His highest ODI score, a brilliant 129-ball 169, also came in Sharjah, in the same match where Tillakaratne scored that hundred in the chase.
Three years later, Sharjah became Sachin Tendulkar's bastion, as he scored two of his most iconic ODI centuries in back-to-back matches against Australia: the Desert Storm 143 that dragged India into the final, and the 134 on his 25th birthday to seal victory in the the triangular tournament.
Tendulkar finished with seven Sharjah hundreds, as did Saeed Anwar, who said before the 1999 World Cup that playing in front of big crowds at this venue had made him a stronger batsman mentally. Four of his seven hundreds came in 1993, and the best of the lot, arguably, was this 131 against West Indies in a chase of 261.
Sharjah wasn't just a batsman's paradise, though. Wasim Akram took 122 wickets here, at an incredible 19.50, including two hat-tricks in the space of seven months in 1989-90 (As a bonus, this video also includes his two Test-match hat-tricks). There were numerous other match-winning spells, including two wickets in the first over of a tournament final against India in 1999.
The everyman's stadium
But Sharjah wasn't just about the big stars. Navjot Singh Sidhu made his maiden ODI hundred here, and took a dubious catch on the boundary - his feet surely touched the rope here - to help the seam-bowling allrounder Sanjeev Sharma pick up five wickets against West Indies. In 1991, Aaqib Javed bagged what were then world-record figures of 7 for 37 against India, including a hat-trick. Muttiah Muralitharan broke Javed's record nine years later, in Sharjah again.
England were also-rans in ODI cricket in the 1990s, but even they tasted success in Sharjah, when Adam Hollioake led an experimental side featuring a number of one-day specialists to victory in a quadrangular tournament also involving India, Pakistan and West Indies. Zimbabwe pulled off three wins in Sharjah against the world champions Sri Lanka in 1997-98, including this one and this one.
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Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84