Monday, September 17, 2018

Pakistan vs India is back in the UAE!

Growing up in Abu Dhabi in the 80s and 90s, I always used to look forward to the annual cricketing event in Sharjah.

Sharjah Cup, Champions Trophy, Wills Cup, Australasia Cup, Rothmans Trophy, Coca-Cola Cup, Pepsi Cup, there were a plethora of tournaments played at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in last two decades of the 20th century.

Pakistan and India squared off 24 times at Sharjah during that period with Pakistan winning 18 times!

At the turn of the century, it all stopped. There were barely any more tournaments in Sharjah. India stopped coming here, and the annual Pakistan vs India fare became a rare commodity.

The only time India have come to the UAE since 2000 was in 2006 for a 2-ODI series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, and later for a few IPL games.

The Dubai Cricket Stadium has been open since 2009 and India has not played there even once.

All this will change from Wednesday.

In the span of 4 days, on the 19th and 23rd of this month, Pakistan will square off against India twice in Dubai!

The Asia Cup has brought back excitement to the same 80s and 90s level.

The 25,000 capacity stadium in Dubai was sold out within minutes for the 19th. Soon after the 23rd was sold out too.

Potentially, the two could meet in the Asia Cup final as well on the 28th, which will make it 3 games in 9 days at a venue where Pakistan and India have never met before.

I have been at the Dubai Stadium at full capacity.

A Pakistan vs Australia T20 a few years ago that ended in a Tie and went into a Super Over, a few PSL games, and a couple of other matches.

The atmosphere there is electrifying to say the least. The noise, the cheering, the music all make it quite deafening.

But I have never been there for a Pakistan vs India match and I can only imagine what it is going to be like this Wednesday.

The stadium is going be full. It might be more than full actually. There will be hoards of people waiting outside trying to get in. There will be a traffic jam around Motor City and Sports City. Parking lots will be full. Cars will be diverted away. There will be some very frustrated fans outside the ground. It will be hot and humid. There will be a lot of hurdles getting to the ground.

But once you will be in, it will all be worth it!

It has to be, it is Pakistan vs India after all, and that too in the UAE after 12 years, and in Dubai for the first time ever!

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