What are you writing about on a Saturday morning when India faces Pakistan in Dubai on Sunday night? Of course, about Sunday night.
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But first about those many tense ’80s Fridays in this corner of the woods. During the Sharjah era, the high-stakes matches between India and Pakistan would take place the weekend before in India. The surprisingly high frequency of these close matches with twists and turns has made limited-release cricket the opium of the masses in the subcontinent. The unreasonable emotional investment in the showdowns between the big rivals would trigger a curfew on the streets, lead to increased TV sales and also lead to a sound beating for a generation of children.
here is Chamik Chakrabary ‘s first impression of the event and Mihir Vasavda‘s look at the future of T20 cricket.
It was the Indo-Pakistani games that also made the two neighboring cricket boards realize the market value of the sport. But Sharjah also had its ailments. It was a place where the word shaded was not only used to describe the cozy grandstands under those desert awnings. Wanted criminals sat in VVIP boxes and had easy access to players.
But Sharjah also gave a hint on where the game is going. What Lalit Modi did in 2008 with IPL, Abdul Rehman Bukhatir did in the 80s. In fact, cricket and entertainment weren’t introduced to each other by IPL, they were. go back a long way. Modi only formalized the warm relationship.
The movie stars at the time were groupies on the sidelines of those Sharjah games, but with the advent of franchise cricket, they were part of it. Aquib Javed once told this newspaper that there was fighting in the Pakistani locker room to line up a certain position in the outfield from where the super movie stars could be seen sitting in those comfortable private boxes. âWasim (Akram) has always won,â he said.
It took a few decades for the distance to narrow, the movie stars were now in dugouts and even in the caucus. After his retirement as bowling coach of KKR, owned by Shah Rukh Khan, Akram would have realized how much the cricket ecosystem had changed.
The move from the cricket capital of Sharjah to the more expensive, more glamorous and more cosmopolitan Dubai, also underlines the growing profile of the sport. The sound of a bat hitting the ball inside Dubai’s billion-dollar Sports City complex heralded cricket’s grand entry into the big leagues. Besides ATP events and European PGA Tour tournaments, Dubai also hosted the IPL and now the World T20. Earlier this year, an article in the London Times revealed that the UAE is considering a Monday-Friday work week to keep the region in tune with the global economy. What was once Friday may soon be Sunday.
Mind you, this World T20 isn’t just about the India-Pak match. There are a lot of interesting stories waiting to unfold. Ahead of the event, we posted some great stories about the men who could make a difference.
During the weekend, find time to read on Kieron pollard, Glenn maxwell, Haider Ali, Mahesh Theekshana and Tabraiz shamsi. The cast of characters here has the kind of variety one might find in Arabian Nights books. There are kings, mavericks, horsemen, wizards and magicians – these are also in a way the cricketers we have described.
National sports editor