Damien Fleming presents an autographed picture of himself in action during Sachin Tendulkar’s 1998 knock to Mazhar Khan and Khalaf Bukhatir of Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Image Credit: Courtesy: Sharjah Cricket Council

Sharjah: There are many tales associated with Sachin Tendulkar’s epic knocks at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in 1998. The Indian Master Blaster’s 143 amid a sandstorm, which came to be known as the ‘Desert Storm’, had helped India qualify for the Coca Cola Cup final on April 22, 1998. Though India lost the match to Australia by 26 runs that knock helped India qualify for the final, but it was Tendulkar’s knock of 134 in the final that helped India emerge the champions beating Australia by six wickets.

Tendulkar cracked his 134 on April 24, which was his birthday, and the whole team celebrated the team’s triumph and his birthday. In fact, many cricket fans, organisers and even journalists were witness to the Indian team’s celebration two decades ago at the stadium, but none knew that amid the losing team one of the bowlers, who tried his best to stop Tendulkar’s onslaught, also had his birthday on the same day.

Fleming is here as a commentator for the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL). “We have the same day as birthday. Sachin turned 24 on that day and me became 28. I remember the onslaught by him distinctly because it was brilliant batting by the genius, especially the sandstorm knock. After the knock everyone was wishing only Tendulkar Happy Birthday,” remarked Fleming.

The Sharjah Cricket Stadium had an action picture of Fleming during that Desert Storm innings from Tendulkar and so during the PSL’s Islamabad United and Karachi Kings match at the stadium, Mazhar Khan, general manager of the stadium, approached Fleming for his autograph on this picture. Fleming after his autograph on the picture presented it to Khalaf Bukhatir, the son of Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, who built the Sharjah stadium, revealing the unknown story of his birthday celebration, which got spoiled.

Interestingly it was Fleming who ended Tendulkar’s knock of 143 by having him caught behind by wicketkeeper Adam Glichrist. Though Fleming was among those who suffered Tendulkar’s onslaught on his birthday, still he went on to take two wickets for 47 from his ten overs and won the best bowler of the series award.