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First match of Sahara Cup, 1999

The first match of the 1996 Sahara Cup was between the arch-rivals and Asian superpowers India and Pakistan. Till then the cricket tournaments in North America was an unheard-of event.

Last updated: 16.09.2019
First match of Sahara Cup, 1999 | Sports Social Blog

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On 16th September 1996, the arch-rivals and Asian superpowers India and Pakistan met in an unusual location of the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club. It was the first match of the 1996 Sahara Cup. Till then the cricket tournaments in North America was an unheard-of event. Although there were few exhibition matches in the USA in the late 80s and early 90s that lacked seriousness which proper international cricket brought. 

Sahara Group, an Indian company was the title sponsor of the tournament which was the brainchild of BCCI and PCB as they were looking for venues for India-Pakistan cricket beyond Sharjah. Key players from both the teams including Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar, and Anil Kumble were present and took part in the first-ever One Day International match on Canadian soil. 

The rain gods were in a mood to dampen the special occasion and rain reduced the match to a 33 over per side game. Pakistan batted first and started pretty well. Saeed Anwar gave them a good start with his 46 and when Kumble picked up his wicket it was 80/2 for Pakistan. But then the Indian bowlers designed a collapse as Pakistan lost seven wickets while adding just 68 runs. Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, and Venkatesh Prasad were chief destroyers with eight wickets. A handy 22-run unbeaten partnership between Saqlain Mushtaq and Waqar Younis took them to 170/9.


For India, Tendulkar started strongly. Despite an early wicket of Nayan Mongia, he kept playing his shots to the strong attack of Wasim, Waqar, and Saqlain. He added 90 runs with Rahul Dravid who contributed with 39 runs. That was the last bit of success for Pakistan as Mohammad Azharuddin joined Tendulkar and the experienced duo added 65 runs to take India to the victory. Tendulkar remained unbeaten with a run-a-ball 89 which included nine boundaries and three sixes. Azhar was unbeaten on 30 with a boundary and two fours.

India had a successful opening game in the Sahara Cup to give joy to a relatively small crowd around 800. But the crowd increased for the future matches and also the luck changed for Pakistan who eventually won the first edition of Sahara Cup 3-2 after a very competitive series.

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