Next month the ICC 2015 Cricket World Cup commences in Australia and New Zealand. Twenty three years ago it was played at the same venues. Here I will review the tournament that crowned Pakistan the champions. It was during the month of Ramzan and was Pakistan cricket’s most triumphant moment in history. Let’s take a nostalgic trip down the memory lane and look at how Pakistan progressed.
The Cricket World Cup 1992 was the first to have colored kits, day/night games and new white balls at each bowlers’ end. South Africa was invited to play its first world cup, after 22 years of exclusion due to apartheid policies. It was also the first world cup for a 22 year old Brian Lara and 18 year old Sachin Tendulkar.
The Pakistani team was struggling with injuries going into the competition. Paceman Waqar Younis was out due to back injury, Imran Khan sustained a shoulder injury limiting his bowling capacity, Javed Miandad had back problems. The team starred Imran Khan (Capt), Ramiz Raja, Aamir Sohail, Inzamam ul Haq, Javed Miandad, Salim Malik, Ijaz Ahmed, Wasim Akram, Moin Khan, Aaqib Javed and Mustaq Ahmed. They wore the now iconic lime green kit.
22.2.1992 Pakistan v West Indies Melbourne, Australia
Poor start by Pakistan, beaten by 10 wickets even though Ramiz Raja scored 102 not out.
27.2.1992 Pakistan v Zimbabwe Hobart, Australia
Easy win for Pakistan by 53 runs. Amir Sohail scored 114.
1.3.1992 Pakistan v England Adelaide, Australia
Dismal performance by Pakistan, collapsing to 74 all out. Fortunately the match was abandoned due to rain, with Pakistan gaining a priceless point.
4.3.1992 Pakistan v India Sydney, Australia
India won by 43 runs. 18 year old Sachin Tendulkar scoring 54 not out. (Pakistan have been unable to beat India in 5 world cup meetings. The two arch rivals will next clash again on Sunday 15th February 2015 in Adelaide- don’t forget to book a day off!)
8.3.1992 Pakistan v South Africa Brisbane, Australia
South Africa won by 21 runs. This was a rain affected match, the rules were such that the revised target disadvantaged Pakistan.
With 5 games played and only 3 points to Pakistan’s name, they needed to win all the remaining games to stand a chance for progression. At this point Imran rallied the troops, ‘We have nothing to lose. We should go out there and fight like cornered tigers’. It proved to be an inspirational speech.
11.3.1992 Pakistan v Australia Perth, Australia
Pakistan beat the Aussies by 48 runs. Amir Sohail scoring 76, out of a total of 220. Australia, the reigning champions were rattled out for 172, on their own turf. Aaqib Javed took 3/21. The game was clustered with angry exchanges between the charged up players.
15.3.1992 Pakistan v Sri Lanka Perth, Australia
Pakistan won by 4 wickets. Javed Miandad 57, Salim Malik 51.
18.3.1992 Pakistan v New Zealand Christchurch, Pakistan
The unbeaten strong New Zealand team were bowled out for 166. Wasim Akram taking 4/32. Ramiz Raja made 119 not out. Pakistan won by 7 wickets.
The good fortunate continued as Australia beat the West Indies, meaning that incredibly Pakistan qualified into the semi finals. Even after a slow start and plagued by injuries, Pakistan was strengthening.
21.3.1992 Pakistan v New Zealand Auckland, New Zealand
It was a sunny, very windy day. Captain Martin Crowe suffered a hamstring strain and was run out by his runner for 91 off only 83 balls. Ken Rutherford made 50. They ended with a high scoring total of 262. However the injured Crowe was unable to lead his team on the field. Pakistan in reply made a solid start with 44 from Rameez Raja and Imran Khan, 57 not out from Javed Miandad. In the last 15 overs 123 runs were required. Enter 22 year old Inzamam ul Haq, he was weak with illness at the time and had initially told Imran he couldn’t play. However with his strong, clean strokes played with impeccable timing he blasted 60 off 37 balls (7 fours, 1 six). After a few strokes the veteran Australian commentator Richie Benaud said Inzamam ‘is a very dangerous batsmen’. He picked out the gaps in the field with ease. This scoring rate was very impressive in the 90’s, an era with smaller, thinner bats than today. He had sealed his reputation in this game. Under pressure Moin Khan finished the game with a handy 20 off 11 balls, Pakistan cruised into the finals.
25.3.1992 Pakistan v England Melbourne, Australia
On a clear sunny day, in front of a record 87 182 spectators, Imran (wearing his tiger imprinted white T shirt) won the toss and decided to bat first. The local Australians were cheering for Pakistan, as they didn’t want their arch rivals England to win. There were also many Pakistanis in the crowd. The inspired ‘Cornered tigers’ had reached the final, to the surprise of many. Pakistan got off to a slow start, openers Aamir Sohail and Ramiz Raja were out cheaply, leaving the score at 24/2. Then came together the two calm veterans of 5 world cups each to steady the ship, Imran Khan and Javed Miandad. They made a slow cautious start, they knew their wickets could not be given away. At one point they scored only 4 runs from 60 balls. At 25 overs the score was 70/2, Capt.Gooch dropped a catch from Javed. The outfield was fast. The foundations had been set, the pair gradually accelerated. They went onto form a partnership of 139 runs. Imran scored 72 off 110 balls, Javed 58 off 98 balls (while struggling with stomach pains, required a runner). Then followed a brisk 42 of 35 balls by new found talent Inzamam, a quickfire 33 not out off 19 balls by Wasim Akram. They finished on 249/6.
Darkness fell, England came into bat under floodlights. Ian Botham was quickly removed for a duck, via an outside edge bowled by Wasim. Alec Stewart was outdone by Aaqib Javed outswinger, 21/2. Graeme Hick was struggling to pick the attacking mystery leg spin of Mushtaq, he eventually was foxed by the googly, 59/3. He also got Gooch out, following a superb catch by Aaqib in the outfield. Then Wasim bowled 2 successive unplayable deliveries from around the wicket. The first swung late off the pitch, straightened up to brush Alan Lamb’s off stump for 31. The second was a vicious in swinger to remove Chris Lewis for a golden duck, 141/6. These are the two most valuable wickets Wasim ever took in his career, as they turned the match. A limping Neil Fair brother scored an honourable 62. Wasim ended with 3/49, Mushtaq 3/41, Aaqib 2/27.
Later in the evening at 10.18pm, Richard Illingworth was caught by Ramiz off Imran’s bowling to secure the first world cup for Pakistan, winning by a margin of 22 runs. England were all out for 227. Wasim Akram won man of the match and was the leading wicket taker of the tournament. Javed Miandad was the 2nd highest run scorer of the competition, with 437. History had been made by Pakistan’s greatest ever team. This opened up Pakistan’s ‘golden’ era of cricket.
We wish the Pakistan cricket team all the best for next month’s 2015 Cricket World Cup. Let’s hope history repeats itself.