KARACHI: Pakistan had the honour of bringing an end to Australia’s remarkable 34-match World Cup streak without a defeat. That happened at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium during the last pool fixture when the Shahid Afridi-led side sealed a four-wicket victory in a low-scoring game against Ricky Ponting’s team.
During this period, which began on May 27, 1999, the Australians won 32 matches, while one was tied and one was a no-result. That streak also included the shortest-ever final in World Cup history when Steve Waugh’s charges completed an eight-wicket rout of a Pakistan side — skippered by Wasim Akram — which was tipped red-hot favourites to lift the global one-day trophy, a fact confirmed by Pakistan defeating Australia by a close margin of 10 runs in the pool fixture at Headingley four weeks earlier.
Surprisingly opting to bat first at Lord’s after it had rained in London that morning, Pakistan capitulated like ninepins for 132 in 39 overs. The damage was inflicted upon by the wily spin of Shane Warne, man-of-the-match for his 4-33 in nine overs, and Glenn McGrath (2-13 in nine).
Australia then cruised home with as many as 179 deliveries — equivalent to exactly 29.5 overs — to spare when Darren Lehmann cut spinner Saqlain Mushtaq to the point boundary.
But it wasn’t the first time that Pakistan were left heartbroken by the Aussies. In their first-ever World Cup clash, Pakistan were seemingly heading for a win at 181-4 while chasing 279 at Headingley in first of three 60-over competitions hosted by England. But the legendary fast bowler Dennis Lillee then took four quick wickets (overall 5-34 in 12 overs) to send Pakistan crumbling to 205 all out.
A dozen years later title favourites Pakistan, led by Imran Khan, unexpectedly crashed out at the semi-final stage in front of a packed home crowd at the Gaddafi Stadium. The margin of defeat was 18 runs, the exact number of runs scored by Steve Waugh in the last over of the Australian innings bowled by paceman Saleem Jaffer.
Pakistan’s other losses against Australia were rather comprehensive. In the 2003 World Cup, Andrew Symonds smashed an unbeaten 143 off 125 balls to lift Australia from 86-4 to 310-8 before Pakistan fell prey to the innocuous seamers of Ian Harvey (4-58) and unorthodox left-arm spin of Brad Hogg (3-54) to be dismissed for 228 in the 45th over.
During the 2015 World Cup eventual champions Australia emerged winners in the Adelaide quarter-final by six wickets. That match earned fame for an enthralling duel between Wahab Riaz and Shane Watson after which both players were hauled by the ICC for disciplinary action.
Pakistan’s other two victories were in contrasting circumstances. During the 1979 tournament, a depleted Australian team, missing top stars who were contracted to Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, were easily brush aside in a rain-hit pool fixture in Nottingham.
And then with their backs to the wall in the 1992 World Cup, Pakistan were in desperate need of a win when they took on hosts Australia at the WACA Ground in Perth. But in an inspired team effort, Imran’s charges overcame tough batting conditions to post a fighting 220-9 with Aamir Sohail (76) the only batsman to get a half century while sharing in two crucial 50-plus partnerships with fellow opener Ramiz Raja (34) and Javed Miandad (46).
Australia fell well short as they managed only 172 in 45.2 overs against the pace of Wasim Akram (2-28), Aaqib Javed (3-21) and Imran, who despite carrying a shoulder injury bowled full quota of 10 overs to take 2-32, with leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed claiming 3-41.
Overall, there is not much to choose between these sides with Australia having a 5-4 winning advantage. However, Pakistan are way behind with only 32 wins against Australia who have won 67 in 103 ODIs against Pakistan.
June 7, 1975 —Headingley, Australia won by 73 runs
June 13-14, 1979 —Trent Bridge, Pakistan won by 89 runs
Nov 4, 1987 —Lahore, Australia won by 18 runs
March 11, 1992 —Perth, Pakistan won by 48 runs
May 23, 1999 —Headingley, Pakistan won by 10 runs
June 20, 1999 — Lord’s, Australia won by eight wickets
Feb 11, 2003 — Johannesburg, Australia won by 82 runs
March 19, 2011 — Colombo (RPS), Pakistan won by four wickets
March 20, 2015 — Adelaide, Australia won by six wickets
Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2019