Sharjah to hit 200
Back when cricket came to the desert when Sharjah hosted its first ODI in April 1984, an Asia Cup match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the ground's owners probably never thought that just over quarter of a century later, the ground would go on to host 200 ODIs.
And even if they did, not many would have predicted that the match that would take it to the double century mark would be between Afghanistan and Canada. In 1984, Canada were just outside the top associates, only just missing out on the semi-finals in the 1982 and 1986 ICC Trophy tournaments. Cricket in Afghanistan was, as far as I know, non-existent, and the country was in the middle of Soviet occupation.
Today's 199th ODI at the ground was an absolute thriller of a game, and whilst the ground may now be, as my colleague Rod Lyall puts it in his report of today's action "a beaten-up, beaten-down, flea-bitten old desert camel of a venue", but it deserves another great match to celebrate the milestone.
It was the first ground in a non ICC Full member country to host an ODI, though there haven't been many matches there involving non Full members. Indeed, today's match was the first to not involve a full member.
In their days as an associate, Bangladesh played five ODIs at Sharjah, two in the 1990 Austral-Asia Cup against Australia and New Zealand, and three during the 1995 Asia Cup. The UAE themselves have played just two of their eleven ODIs at the venue, both in the 1994 Austral-Asia Cup, against India and Pakistan. Kenya played three ODIs there in 2003 during a tournament that also involved Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and was the last ODI event there before today.
The only other grounds to host 100 ODIs are the Sydney Cricket Ground, with 135, and the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with 129. The next non ICC Full member ground is the Gymkhana Club ground in Nairobi with 58.
Top ten grounds in non Full member countries
1. Sharjah, UAE (199)
Note: The Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka hosted 36 ODIs whilst Bangladesh was still an associate