SHARJAH -Sharjah Cricket Stadium, which has been the venue for many great finals, is ready to stage yet another nerve-jangling contest as Pakistan and Australia meet in the Cool & Cool Cup series decider on Monday (today).
Pakistan may be familiar with the conditions here, but Australia have adapted well and can even claim that the conditions in Sharjah suit their game. Australia skipped their scheduled practice session on Sunday night in a bid to ensure they are in peak condition for today’s one-day series decider against Pakistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. So the Australians decided to preserve their energy after the intense heat and battle in the match in Abu Dhabi, which didn’t finish until 2.27am.
Despite the stadium hosting its 207th One Day International match on Monday, the intensity is the same as the tournaments that Sharjah’s Cricketer’s Benefit Fund Series (CBFS) used to stage in the 1980s.
Abdul Rahman Bukhatir said: “Every time a game is played there, it is living proof that the Sharjah dream is actually a reality. No one has ever been able to place their finger on it exactly, but Sharjah’s cricketing history is legendary and much of it is due to the intimacy and friendliness of the place.”
For Pakistan, a win there will be a historic moment, as they have waited 10 years to beat Australia in a one-day series. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq knows the significance of the match, but he also knows it will not be an easy task. “Australia are one of the top teams in the world and they can come hard on us. We have to really play good cricket to beat them,” he said.
Clarke observed the same about Pakistan. “We are going to the same venue and similar conditions in which we won the first one-day match of this series. We have gained a lot of confidence out of it, but we have to play at our best if we are to beat Pakistan in conditions which are more familiar to them,” said Clarke, who has hit half-centuries against Afghanistan and Pakistan in this tour.
Misbah is looking to his youngsters like Assad Shafiq, Azhar Ali and Nasir Jamshed to step up once again and perform.
“We have to have believe in ourselves that we can win. If so, we can go on and win the match and series,” said Misbah.