The 1998 Sharjah Cup between India, Australia and New Zealand is remembered to this date for Sachin Tendulkar’s back-to-back centuries against Australia, the first of which is popularly known as ‘Desert Storm’. Facing off against Australia, India were asked to chase 284. The match was stopped after a desert storm arrived in Sharjah, and the target was revised to 277 in 46 overs.
India needed to maintain a higher Net Run Rate than New Zealand to qualify for the final and hence were required to score at least 237. The wickets were tumbling and it did not look like India would reach the mark.
In a recent interview, former India cricketer VVS Laxman who was part of the Indian team during the match, recalled what happened in the dressing room after the storm stopped play.
“During the desert storm match I was fortunate to be in the best seat in the house; I was at the non-striker end. It was a most memorable experience,” Laxman told The Indian Express.
“Sachin was in his zone, for him nothing else mattered but to make India qualify for the finals. It was his best ODI hundred. He has scored so many hundreds but for me those two hundreds especially the desert storm hundred that helped us qualify for the final was probably the best hundred of Sachin in ODI’s.
“Then the way he batted in final. He smashed and demolished the Australian line-up that had very good bowlers,” he recalled.
“One thing about desert-storm hundred was when we came to changing room after the storm. Anshu bhai (Anshuman Gaekwad) was our coach and I still remember he came to me to talk and then went to Sachin.
“Sachin was listening to music on his walkman and headphones. It’s something that he does normally when he is about to bat. He removed his headphone and said, “Don’t worry Anshu bhai I will make sure that I do everything possible to qualify for the finals”,” Laxman further said.
“And we were a fair bit away at that stage, we had lost wickets. It was me, one more batsman and then the bowlers to come. He had such confidence in himself that he will make sure that we qualify for the finals. That kind of confidence he gave to the coach, that is one thing, I will never ever forget,” Laxman further added.
Sachin scored 143 runs and helped India to 250/5 in 46 overs. India lost the match by 27 runs, but it was enough to see them through the final. In the final, Tendulkar scored another ton to help India win the game.