Cricket - Bukhatirs
A rich legacy: Abdul Rahman Bukhatir (left) with his two sons, Waleed and Khalaf, at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Image Credit: Supplied photo

When I was watching the Pakistan vs New Zealand game at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday, it took me down memory lane of the number of thrilling matches this stadium has hosted.

My first memory goes way back in the year 1984 when I was just 13 years old and that is the first time I heard the commentary on All India Radio as matches were not telecast live those days. I vividly remember the first tournament was the Rothmans Asia Cup which was played by three Asian teams - India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and India were winners of that tournament - thanks to wicketkeeper-batsman Surinder Khanna who was the hero for the team.

It was the beginning of many historic matches played between the two Asian giants. Then one year later in March 1985 in the four-nation Rothmans Cup, India were bowled out by Imran Khan’s devastating spell of 6/14 for only 125. India stormed back through its spinners to bowl Pakistan out for just 87 runs. One year later in 1986, Javed Miandad hit a six off the last ball of Chetan Sharma to clinch a historic win for Pakistan.

Abdul Rahman Bukhatir (centre), the man who brought international cricket to the desert, is flanked by his son Waleed Bukhatir (left) and Mazhar Khan. Image Credit: Supplied photo

Sharjah Cricket Stadium has, till December 2019, hosted 240 One-day Internationals - the highest number of ODIs till that date. This iconic stadium was the brainchild of Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, whom I had the pleasure to meet on Tuesday and he still has the passion for the game as he had for 40 years.

His sons, Waleed Bukhatir and Khalaf Bukhatir, have taken the legacy forward and were proud that their father created history by making this iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium which now finds a place in the Guinness Book of Record for holding the most number of ODIs.

Mazhar Khan, who has been the General Manager of this iconic stadium, still puts in the hard yards to ensure everything runs smoothly during every event and is proud that Sharjah is now holding the T20 World Cup - which is another feather in the cap.

The stadium has now been completely renovated with the Royal Box standing out for its elite and VIP guests - and so has been the commentary box for the panelists.

When you think of cricket in United Arab Emirates, it’s Sharjah Cricket Stadium which is easily accessible to every common person - and the crowd’s roar is deafening when it’s full to its capacity of 25,000 people.

- Cricket enthusiast Anis Sajan is the Vice-chairman of Danube Group