India vs Afghanistan, Asia Cup 2018: 8 ODIs with the closest finishes played in the UAE

Kartikeya Kumar

Asia Cup 2018 is being staged in the UAE, a country which has hosted tons of nail-biting encounters.

A tie in the match between India and Afghanistan yesterday was certainly the best game of the tournament. Although scores around 250 have not seemed challenging during this century, a look at the matches played in UAE through the years will tell you a different story.

The Asia Cup is being staged in the UAE, which has staged more than 300 ODIs in the last 35 years. Between 1985 and 2003, more than 200 ODI's were staged here - with all the matches being played at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

While the games between 1984 and 1996 were played in white clothing and with a red ball, floodlights were introduced in 1997 and games were played with a white ball and coloured clothing, which has become the standard ODI norm since January 2001.

The 1984 Asia Cup played in Sharjah was the beginning of a golden age of cricket. Till that point, the only ODI tournament played annually was the triangular series in Australia (beginning in 1979). For the next 20 years, Sharjah would stage at least two multilateral tournaments every year - containing the best cricketers - as ODI cricket was at its peak.

A four-nation tournament that was played just after the conclusion of the 2003 World Cup was the end of this golden age - as no more multilateral tournaments were played here. However, cricket came back to the UAE in 2006, with a two-match bilateral series between India and Pakistan.

This was followed by some ODI games in Dubai, and limited overs cricket returned to Sharjah in 2010. With UAE becoming Pakistan's home (following security concerns in Pakistan) and with Dubai becoming the home of ICC, UAE has staged many bilateral tournaments and some multilateral tournaments in the last ten-odd years.

Since 1984, we have witnessed some heart-wrenching thrillers in the UAE. Let's have a look at some of the closest matches played here before this year's Asia Cup - the biggest tournament in the UAE in the last 15 years.

#8 Austral-Asia Cup Final, 1986 - India vs Pakistan at Sharjah -

Pakistan won by one wicket

Javed Miandad nearly pulled a rabbit out of the hat, hitting Chetan Sharma's last ball for 6, with 4 needed.

In a tense 50-over final of one of the biggest tournaments of that decade, India got off to a good start with a 117-run opening partnership. Wickets from Wasim Akram and Imran Khan during the middle overs stemmed India's tide and restricted them to a total of 245 for 7.

In reply, Pakistan lost early wickets when number four batsman Javed Miandad took hold of things. India's medium pacers kept taking wickets at regular intervals, but Miandad anchored the innings with decent support from Saleem Malik and Abdul Qadir. After the loss of captain Imran Khan for the sixth wicket, all of Pakistan's hopes rested on Javed's shoulders.

Miandad attacked, but could not stop wickets from falling at the other end. He reached his century at run-a-ball, but with only two fours and two sixes to show in the boundaries column. Chetan Sharma was bowling well in the death, with Pakistan's ninth wicket of Zulqarnain being his third. With four needed off the last ball, most neutral spectators did not give Pakistan a chance.

Pakistan's batsman of the day was facing India's bowler of the day and the match was well set up. While Miandad revealed his backup plans to different kinds of prospective deliveries many years after that match, he obliged when Sharma missed the length to deliver a friendly low full-toss, which Miandad effortlessly dispatched outside the boundary.

The six registered a historic victory for Pakistan over India, one that is talked about till date.

#7 Wills Trophy, 1991 - Pakistan vs West Indies at Sharjah- West Indies won by one wicket

Richie Richardson was in the form of his life, with back to back centuries against a great Pakistan attack.

In the first match of the Wills Trophy in 1991 in Sharjah, West Indies seamers Curtley Ambrose, Ian Bishop and Patrick Patterson combined to bowl Pakistan out for 215. Rameez Raja and Javed Miandad were the only batsmen who achieved individual scores of forty-plus.

Up against a world-beating bowling lineup of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Imran Khan, Aaqib Javed and Mushtaq Ahmed; West Indies really struggled to gather any sort of momentum.

Pakistan took wickets at regular intervals, and West Indies only found relief in the form of leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed. Captain Richie Richardson anchored the innings, getting to his century, but West Indies still needed 13 runs with only one wicket left.

Richardson decided to face most of the bowling, exposing Patterson to only three deliveries. The captain hit the winning runs off a sharp Wasim Akram to register an unlikely one-wicket victory against one of the world's best ODI attacks.

Bonus ODI #1: Wills Trophy, 1991 - Pakistan vs West Indies at Sharjah - Pakistan Won By One Run

If ever there was a case of justice being delivered soon, it was with this match. In the fourth match of this series and exactly four days later, Pakistan were again batting first. After losing early wickets and Javed Miandad getting injured, Rameez Raja played a defiant inning of 90, well assisted by 77 from captain Imran Khan.

But Curtley Ambrose was too good on that day, with his five-wicket haul restricting Pakistan to 236 for 7 in 50 overs. On yet another hot afternoon in Sharjah, it was again up to captain Richie Richardson to save the day for his country.

This time around, he found some able support from wicket-keeper batsman Jeff Dujon. With both batsmen set, and just 26 runs needed with five-wickets remaining, the match was all for the West Indies to lose.

And that is exactly what happened. Waqar Younis, who was in sensational form, got the priceless wicket of West Indies captain, who had scored 122 out of West Indies' 211 runs at that time.

Jeff Dujon was soon run-out, but number eight Ian Bishop tried turning things around, hitting a six and a four. With two needed off the last ball, Bishop was against reverse-swing master and Pakistan's bowler of the day - Waqar Younis.

Even with the field well spread, Bishop tried smashing a young and quickly striding Waqar Younis, playing all over the line. But the toe-crushing Waqar was spot on, as Bishop cleared his front leg and Waqar rattled his middle stump. Pakistan won the match by one run.

#6 Singer Champions Trophy, 1996 - New Zealand v Sri Lanka at Sharjah- Match Tied

Danny Morrison was simply unplayable even as Sri Lanka were chasing a low score.

Choosing to bat first against Sri Lanka, New Zealand struggled against the two de Silva's - left-arm seamer Sajeewa and legendary off-spinning all-rounder Aravinda. Even useful contributions from Nathan Astle and Mark Greatbatch could not help the Kiwis get to a respectable score, managing 169 for 8 in their 50 overs.

Even with Sri Lanka losing their first three wickets for 39, Jayasuriya continued to attack, getting to his fifty in quick time. A sharp run out from Nathan Astle triggered yet another mini-collapse with Sri Lanka reeling at 98 for 6.

Upul Chandana stuck around with captain Arjuna Ranatunga, and the team needed only 30 runs with four wickets remaining. Astle got the crucial wicket of Upul Chandana.

Danny Morrison, who took the first two wickets in the innings, came back and got the prized wicket of Arjuna Ranatunga, with Sri Lanka now needing eleven to win with two wickets left. Chaminda Vaas ensured the scores were level, while Sajeewa ensured Sri Lanka still had two wickets in hand.

Needing one run from three overs with two wickets left, Sri Lanka were in the driver's seat. Chaminda Vaas was at the non-striker's end and Morrison took full advantage. With the field inside, Morrison attacked Sajeewa, who was trying to play out the over.

On the third ball of the over, which was just outside off stump, left-hander Sajeewa tried to leave one off right-arm Morrison bowling from over the wicket. He played on, and Murali was in next.

Murali comfortably played the next two balls, and New Zealand knew that the last ball of the over was also their last chance to avoid a defeat. New Zealand captain Lee Germon got the field right and bravely kept Stephen Fleming at slip.

Morrison bowled the correct line, and Murali edged it straight to Fleming. This was Sharjah's (and UAE's) first ever tied match, and Morrison finished with figures of 5 for 34.

#5 Coca-Cola Champions Trophy, 1999 - Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Sharjah - Match Tied

With 2 tri-series victories in Sharjah, one in India and finishing runners-up at the World Cup, Pakistan was the best ODI team in 1999.

In one of the most remarkable one-day matches ever, this one looked like one-way traffic for the most part of the game.

Bad running from Pakistan combined with two wickets apiece for Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan and Russell Arnold restricted Pakistan to 196 all out. Only Saeed Anwar, Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam-ul-Haq scored 30-plus, with none of them getting a half-century.

Sri Lanka got off to a good start before Attapattu edged one off Wasim Akram to Moin Khan - losing their first wicket for 42. However, a 115-run partnership between Romesh Kaluwitharana and Russell Arnold eased their nerves, with the team needing only 40 runs from 88 balls with nine wickets remaining.

Many Sri Lankan fans must have switched off their television sets at this point during the midnight (it was already midnight in Sri Lankan time with 15 overs remaining), rest assured of a win.

Kaluwithrana tried cutting a sharply reverse-swinging delivery from Abdul Razzaq, but inside edged it, providing wicketkeeper Moin Khan with a difficult chance, which he grabbed. Arnold didn't complicate things, and soon Sri Lanka were in their 170's.

A gem of a delivery, an arm ball from Shoaib Malik, bowling round the wicket to left-hander Russell Arnold, bowled the latter and opened the floodgates. Wasim and Razzaq started attacking from both ends, and soon Sri Lanka were 177 for 5.

While Wasim was bowling line and length and occasionally getting some swing, Razzaq - with his high round-arm action - was in-swinging the old ball just like Waqar did during his peak. It looked as there was a ball-attracting magnet fitted in the stumps, as it swung from way outside the off - in the air and off the deck.

With 11 runs needed off 26 balls and five wickets remaining, Razzaq got Mahela Jayawardene to edge another one to Moin Khan behind the stumps. The very next delivery, he produced his stock ball for the evening - a late in-dipper to beat Suresh Perera all ends up. Chaminda Vaas played across the line - also losing his off-stump to Razzaq.

Sri Lanka, just like their 1996 tie, managed to level the scores. Number seven batsman Chamara Silva was facing the last ball of the penultimate over, and rather than depending on Murali and last man Zoysa to finish the job, decided to run.

He played Azhar Mahmood's last ball straight to Shoaib Malik at square leg, ran towards the bowling end and Malik made an uncomplicated underarm direct hit to dismiss Murali at the batting end.

Chamara was now on strike, facing Razzaq to score just one run off one full over with just one wicket remaining. Razzaq again bowled his stock delivery of the evening - a late in-swinging length ball that swung into the middle stump.

Silva tried playing a straight drive, but suffered a similar fate as Mahela, Razzaq rattling the stumps. The match was tied, Razzaq took five wickets and delivered his first of many stunning man-of-the-match performances in the UAE during three different decades.

#4 Bilateral ODI Series, 2010 - Afghanistan vs Canada at Sharjah - Afghanistan won by 1 run

Mohammad Shahzad, the star in yesterday's tie, was as less known as his team during 2010.

In a relatively insignificant ODI, cricket-crazy fans in Sharjah were treated by some blistering batsmanship from Afghanistan opener Noor Ali Zadran and young wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Shahzad.

Both scored centuries, which took Afghanistan to 289 for 6 in 50 overs. Canada's opening bowlers Harwir Baidwan and Khurram Chohan finished with six wickets between them.

Canada got off to a flying start with a 59-run opening stand off just 40 balls. While Bastiampillai got out lbw to leg-spinner Samiullah Shenwari, the second opener Rizwan Cheema was playing at T20 pace - having scored 61 off 34 balls, before getting bowled by Shenwari with the team score at 105.

Shenwari trapped the next batsman Sandeep Jyoti, and Canada were struggling at 107 for 4. A steady 109-run partnership between captain Ashish Bagai and Sunil Dhaniram took Canada to 216, before Dhaniram was bowled by Mohammad Nabi.

Usman Limbada supported Bagai, who took the fight to Afghanistan. After Limbada was gone, Bagai single-handedly took his team within 22 runs of the target. But Bhatti's run-out complicated things further.

Bagai faced the last ball, with his team needing three. The ball hit his pads, they completed one, but the non-striker Khurram Chohan was slightly slow and was run out by Mohammad Shahzad and Aftab Alam to register a thrilling one-run victory for Afghanistan.

#3 Bilateral ODI Series, 2010 - Pakistan vs South Africa at Abu Dhabi - Pakistan won by one wicket

Abdul Razzaq was sensational with the bat in both the matches.

If there was any match that completely belonged to Abdul Razzaq, it was this one. In the second ODI of a bilateral series between two competitive teams, just months before the World Cup, South Africa registered a good score of 286 for 8 in challenging conditions in Abu Dhabi.

Colin Ingram got a century, while Hashim Amla and JP Duminy scored fifties. In the first 30 overs, Pakistan lost half their side. Pakistan needed 151 off 124 balls with five wickets remaining, when Razzaq - who took one wicket earlier in the day - came out to bat.

Razzaq and Fawad Alam registered a run-a-ball 81-run partnership, but once Fawad was gone, it was totally up to Razzaq. With 70 needed off 49, Razzaq faced most of the balls and dealt only in boundaries. Zulqarnain Haider, Wahab Riaz as well as Saeed Ajmal were run out - all trying to get Razzaq on strike.

But when last man Shoaib Akhtar came in, Pakistan needed 30 off 15. Razzaq continued to attack, and by the time he reached his century in less than 70 balls, he had already hit nine sixes. With four needed off the last two, Razzaq smashed the ball for yet another six - his tenth.

Bonus ODI #2: Bilateral ODI Series, 2010 - Pakistan vs South Africa at Dubai - Pakistan won by one wicket

The 4th ODI of the series, played just 5 days later, read exactly the same result as the second ODI of the series - Pakistan winning by one wicket with one over to spare. The aggregate scores in this game were slightly lower than the previous one.

South Africa scored 274 for 6 with Shoaib Akhtar, Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Hafeez all getting two wickets apiece. Proteas captain Graeme Smith just missed out on a century, scoring 92.

Pakistan kept losing wickets in regular intervals, but most of their batsmen scored runs in the double figures. A three-wicket haul from Morne Morkel was well dealt by Younis Khan, who scored 73 in the final analysis.

However, Pakistan's real challenge came when they lost Razzaq, with the team now needing 31 off 23 with just two wickets in hand. Wahab Riaz, as well as wicket-keeper batsman Zulqarnain Haider, played to the situation perfectly, but Wahab got run out with just three runs needed off the last three balls.

The good news for Pakistan was that number eleven Shoaib Akhtar was off-strike, and Haider managed the pressure extremely well - scoring two of the fourth and the winning runs off the fifth ball of the over.

It still remains a mystery why Haider, who has a decent overall record, never got another chance to represent Pakistan internationally.

#2 Bilateral ODI Series, 2013 - Pakistan vs South Africa at Sharjah - South Africa won by one run

Pakistan was not third time lucky, as South Africa held their nerve three years later at Sharjah.

As far as nail-biting finishes are concerned, South Africa finally avenged their 2010 defeats to the hands of Pakistan in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in 2010 at the home of cricket in the UAE - Sharjah.

In the first ODI of yet another bilateral series, South Africa were troubled by Pakistan's spinners, with Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi sharing seven wickets between them. A below-average score of 183 appeared difficult to defend.

However, South Africa responded well with all their mainstream bowlers taking wickets. Pakistan were well poised at 174 for 6, needing just ten runs off 48 balls with four wickets in hand.

Sohail Tanveer holed out to Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Imran Tahir made a double strike in the next over, getting the wickets of Shahid Afridi and Wahab Riaz.

Last pair Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Irfan played out many deliveries and only ran when there was an opportunity. Pakistan was within inches of a victory needing only three runs when Morne Morkel came in to bowl the 47th over.

Saeed Ajmal took a single on the first ball of the over, and Irfan just managed to play out the second ball. A full-length delivery from Morkel on the off stump turned out too good for the tall Mohammad Irfan, as he could not get down in time and the stumps were rattled.

#1 Bilateral ODI Series, 2014 - Pakistan vs Australia at Abu Dhabi - Australia won by one run

Pakistan v Australia - ODI International

After winning their first bilateral ODI series in the UAE, Australia were aiming to whitewash Pakistan with yet another victory in the third and final match of the series.

In a seesaw-like ride, Australia scored 231 for 9 in their 50 overs while batting first. Steve Smith scored 77 and David Warner scored 56, but the game-changer was a 42-ball 33 from number eight James Faulkner. Sohail Tanvir and Shahid Afridi took five wickets between them.

Two wickets apiece from Kane Richardson, James Faulkner and Xavier Doherty kept Pakistan tied down. All their batsmen got starts, but regular wickets did not allow Pakistan to settle down.

With 23 runs required at run a ball, and with two wickets in hand, the pair of Sohail Tanvir and Zulfiqar Babar did remarkably well to get within two runs of the target and one over to spare.

With all their main bowlers having finished their respective overs, wicketless Glen Maxwell was called to bowl the last over. While Sohail Tanvir played out the first delivery, he tried to slog the second and was beaten all ends up by a straight delivery by Maxwell.

Last man Mohammad Irfan defended the next three balls, with Pakistan needing two off the last. He also slogged the last ball of the match, throwing his bat while aiming for the mid-wicket boundary, but providing a simple catch to James Faulkner at short cover.

The over turned out to be a double wicket-maiden and Glen Maxwell won the man-of-the-match award.