From the archives: Team peaked at the right moment

Imran Khan and the Pakistani cricket team celebrate victory in the 1992 World Cup The following story is ...
Published March 25, 2017
Imran Khan and the Pakistani cricket team celebrate victory in the 1992 World Cup
Imran Khan and the Pakistani cricket team celebrate victory in the 1992 World Cup

The following story is from the Dawn archives and appeared in print on March 26,1992.

By every reckoning, the spoils of victory were a fitting climax for a team that peaked at the right moment in their campaign, to win the World Cup for the first time in their history. So, congratulations Imran Khan and your young tigers for bringing the trophy to Pakistan.

For all the sweat, toil and tears in the long and illustrious career of one of Pakistan’s greatest cricket captains, the sheer joy of winning the prestigious competition in his fifth attempt has come as a just reward.

And there could be no better satisfaction to the man for springing up the impossible in the twilight years of his career. And that too, when almost everyone had written off his team at the outset.

The overpowering presence of “General” Imran Khan was felt in a big way at the fag-end of the tournament. His entire squad of fourteen rose to the man, to accept every order of the day.

Explore: Imran's faith pushed us over the line in 92: Inzamam

Of course, that was no small wonder, winning five out of five matches on the trot, when nothing short of victory was needed to sustain Pakistan’s challenge in order to clinch the Cup.

The magnificent victories conjured up against co-host Australia, Sri Lanka, twice against New Zealand, and on Wednesday over England in the final will imperish in one’s memory for a very long time to come.

It was a superlative performance in front of 87,133 enchanting spectators at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the biggest cricketing arena in the world, that had the entire Pakistan nation explode into ecstasy when England were bowled out.

Indeed, it was a super-duper, all round team work that had managed to swamp the English spirit. The difference between the two teams were the predictability of the English bowling and the power of snapping up wickets by Pakistan when it mattered, that drew the ultimate line.

All-rounder Wasim Akram richly deserved the Man-of-the-Match award at the finale. Akram’s exhilarating batting and devastating bowling that saw him on a hat-trick in the 35th over, just when Allan Lamb and Neil Fairbrother looked like taking the game from Pakistan, played a large part in our triumph.

Imran Khan set the tempo for Pakistan by calling correct on the spin of the coin and electing to bat. But, after the tournament’s two prolific scorers Aamir Sohail and Ramiz Raja fell cheaply, Imran Khan and Javed Miandad set about a magnificent rescue act. At first, it seemed on the slowish side but in the end the splendid partnership turned out to be the foundation for the emphatic win.

On the departure of Javed and Imran, Inzamamul Haq and Wasim Akram came in and snatched the spotlight for themselves. Inzamamul Haq set out to play another gorgeous innings. While Wasim Akram, who enjoys the envious reputation of turning out a superb display on any given day, much to England’s annoyance, saved the occasion for the fateful day.

Read more: Greatest WC moment: Akram shines under Melbourne sky

The impact the pair made on the England bowlers was that they simply overawed them and the bowling went to pieces in the vital slog overs. The intensity of the Pakistan plunder can be gauged from the fact that they plundered 179 runs in the last 25 overs.

It was this particular period of time, the deficiencies in the England bowling attack became more than obvious. England’s bowlers thrive on containment and this factor is a great drawback when wickets are needed to put the breaks on the batsmen on the rampage.

Wasim Akram, Aaqib Javed and Mushtaq Ahmed lived up to their billing as the most incisive one-day bowlers in the world. The trio’s effective talent of picking wickets in trying circumstances has seen Pakistan safely through.

Neil Fairbrother and Allan Lamb, with an impressive fifth wicket partnership, tried to take the fight to Pakistan. But, just when the two appeared to be resting the initiative, the inspirational touch of skipper Imran Khan had the last laugh.

Imran brought back Wasim Akram in an effort to separate Fairbrother and Lamb. Akram duly obliged by taking the wickets of Lamb and new man Chris Lewis with successive deliveries.

With that the writing was very much on the wall for England. The tail began to wag a bit, but the roaring Pakistan bowlers were not to be tantalised for long.

Hurrah, Pakistan, for avenging sweet revenge. Remember it was Australia who had come to the Qadhafi Stadium (Lahore) four-and-a-half years ago to put out the embers for Pakistan. What better way to overcome the bitterness by winning the Cup on Australian soil the next time around.

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