Inzamam-ul-Haq and Aamer Sohail pummel New Zealand with a world record partnership of 263 runs

Aamer Sohail (left) and Inzamam-ul-Haq plundered New Zealand attack into submission stitching together a world-record alliance of 263 runs at Sharjah © Getty Images

On April 20, 1994 New Zealand bowlers discovered the rigours of bowling to Aamer Sohail and Inzamam-ul-Haq in the semi-final of the Austral-Asia Cup. Sarang Bhalerao revisits the day when the highest partnership in one-day cricket was recorded at Sharjah.

Sunil Gavaskar had taken the reins of the team after Indian coach Ajit Wadekar had heart attack. The previous day, India had caused an upset of sorts by thrashing Australia in a clinical fashion in the semi-final of the Austral-Asia Cup. India chased 245 in the 46th over.

Pakistan locked horns with New Zealand on a placid track at Sharjah. Taking a cue from the first semi-final, New Zealand skipper Gavin Larsen put Pakistan in hoping that the wicket will ease out in the second half. Little did he know that the carnage that was going to happen would nip New Zealand’s pursuit in the bud.

Pakistan opener Saeed Anwar tore apart the New Zealand attack. He was offered freebies on the pads. For the Asian batsmen it is like offering free dessert at the end of the meal. The sublime touch of Anwar gave Pakistan a good start. A reckless shot brought about his downfall. Dion Nash gave Anwar a mouthful after dismissing him. But that was the last moment of joy for New Zealand. That brought to the crease the man who had single-handedly knocked them out of the 1992 World Cup.

Inzamam’s lazy elegance came to the fore when he flicked Nash through square-leg and when he cover drove Larsen effortlessly at the start of his innings. Sohail punished off-spinner Shane Thompson for his poor lengths. When Thomson bowled short outside off stump, he was cut mercilessly, a flighted loopy ball gave the off-spinner no returns on the flat track and even it was thrashed through covers. Sohail guided Larsen twice past vacant slip area and earned two boundaries.

Chris Harris, the dibbly-dobbly bowler, dried the runs; albeit only for a brief moment. The duo found out a way to tackle his deliveries. While Sohail unleashed a cover drive for a boundary, Inzamam cut Harris past point for a four. The signs were ominous for New Zealand. The wait for the fall of second wicket was agonizing.

Pakistan, one thought, were playing with the bunch of upstarts. Inzamam walked down to fast bowler Heath Davis and hit him through mid-wicket for a boundary. Larsen suffered the same ignominy but the only difference was the direction where the ball went. It went to the fine leg area.

Inzamam scored his century hitting Nash past fine leg for a boundary. Inzamam was jubilant. He was also gallant as he went up to Nash, who had fallen to the ground after colliding with strong Inzamam. In a way, that collision symbolized New Zealand’s actual position. They were fallen to the ground after Inzamam’s assault. Nash congratulated Inzamam and there was a wry smile from the batsman as if to suggest that it is not over yet. New Zealand kept bowling at Inzamam’s pads and he obliged hitting the succour balls to the boundaries.

Sohail had toned down his aggression and was overshadowed by Inzamam. He brought up his hundred two overs after Inzamam reached there. It was a measured knock.

The duo soon registered the highest stand for any wicket in One-Day internationals beating the previous record of unbroken 224 runs between Dean Jones and Allan Border against Sri Lanka in 1984. The 263-run stand was broken in the final over of the innings when Sohail was dismissed by Chris Pringle.
Inzamam remained unbeaten on 137 runs. That was his highest score in one-day cricket even 378 ODI appearances for Pakistan.

New Zealand, chasing 329, could not cope up with the required run rate. New Zealand lost by 62 runs.
Sharjah’s cricketing history had another glittering chapter: The splendid exemplification of dominance by Aamer Sohail and Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Brief scores:

Pakistan 328 for 2 in 50 overs (Inzamam-ul-Haq 137*, Aamer Sohail 134) beat New Zealand 266 for 7 in 50 overs (Adam Parore 82, Shane Thomson 62; Wasim Akram 2 for 50) by 66 runs.

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)