Sharjah: Cricketers from the UAE had to wait 17 years since 1996 to play in any form of the World Cup before their Under-19 team qualified for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 Cricket World Cup. Vijay Mehra, a member of the 1996 UAE World Cup squad that played in the 50-over World Cup had long dreamt of seeing his son also play in a World Cup.
On Tuesday, Mehra realised his dream when his son Shiv Mehra opened the innings for UAE against Sri Lanka at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. They became the first father and son to represent the UAE at the World Cup.
Speaking to Gulf News, Vijay Mehra, a prolific scorer in the UAE’s domestic cricket leagues, who made his One-day International debut against India, said: “It was my dream to see my son represent UAE in a World Cup too. Playing in a World Cup was the highlight of my career.”
Mehra was one of the most talented cricketers in India when he was his son’s age. Like his son, he also opened the innings for the Delhi Under-19 team and also North Zone with Test star Navjot Sidhu as his partner. “I used to score heavily in junior cricket and even scored an unbeaten 206 in schools cricket. My Delhi teammates were Test stars Maninder Singh, late Raman Lamba and Manoj Prabhakar. I left India for UAE when I was on trial for the Delhi Ranji Trophy team,” he recalls.
Vijay never gave up his dream of playing international cricket and went on to represent UAE in the Pepsi Australasia Cup in Sharjah. “I played my first international match against the star-studded Mohammad Azharuddin-led Indian team in 1994. I hit 43 runs in that match and it was a special feeling.”
In the 1996 World Cup, Vijay played against South Africa, England, New Zealand and Netherlands in Pakistan. In his last innings of the World Cup and his final One-day International match, he remained unbeaten on 29 to steer UAE to a seven-wicket win over the Netherlands.
“We never got any more chance to play in a World Cup and I wanted my son to play international cricket and taught him the basics. He got trained in Young Talent Cricket Academy and later at Desert Cubs Cricket Academy. In schools cricket, he scored heavily, too. He got selected to represent UAE in Asian Cricket Council Under-16 tournament. Opening the innings, he emerged as the highest scorer for UAE. He even carried his bat with an unbeaten 49 in UAE’s total of 110.”
Vijay was watching from the pavilion at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday as Shiv scored 22 runs and put on a 51-run opening partnership for the UAE with Dan D’Souza. It was also Shiv’s One Day International debut for the youth team.