Cricket World Cup 1992
Pakistan came back from behind to win the 1992 edition of the World Cup
The 1992 World Cup was the fifth edition of the tournament and was different from the first four in many ways. For one, it was the first ever to have nine teams featuring in the tournament and secondly, it also became the first tournament to be played under floodlights.
There were 50-overs a side games and the tournament was played in Australia and New Zealand. This was also the first time the tournament was played with coloured clothing and the only time in the history of the World Cup cricket that all the teams had to play each other.
All the eight teams from the 1983 and the 1987 World Cup qualified to play in the 1992 World Cup as well. The format was expected to be the same, but the last minute change in plans occurred when South Africa were allowed to participate in international sports once again in 1991. This meant that they were the ninth team to make it to the 1992 World Cup.
The nine teams were Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, South Africa, England, West Indies.
All the nine teams played against each for the only time in the history of the tournament. There were 39 games in the tournament, which was 12 more than the previous edition of the tournament and that meant that it was also the biggest Cricket World Cup till then. At the end of the round-robin tournament, the top four sides were to qualify for the semi-finals and the winner of the semi-finals would meet in the finals.
How it panned out
Being the hosts and defending champions, Australia were going to be the team to watch out for. Similarly, there was considerable interest in the South African side given that they would be playing in their first World Cup ever. None of the Asian sides were expected to do too well given the different nature of the tracks in Australia and New Zealand from back home.
As it turned out, Australia were shocked in the very first game of the tournament by New Zealand. Martin Crowe scored a century and then had off-spinner Dipak Patel opening the bowling in the game to stun the defending champions. In another of the opening round fixtures, Zimbabwe amassed a rather huge 312/4 in the 50 overs but still lost to Sri Lanka thanks to a superb chase by Arjuna Ranatunga.
New Zealand continued their winning streak with a triumph over Sri Lanka while Australia were brushed aside by Kepler Wessels’ South Africa. Incidentally, Wessels had played for Australia before the ban on South Africa was lifted.
Pakistan started off with a win as well while India lost to England and then had their game against Sri Lanka abandoned due to rain. West Indies made a decent start with two wins from three games while England won both their opening encounters.
The first glimpse of a troubled rain-rule came in the India-Australia game at Brisbane when rain reduced three overs from India’s chase but the target came down by only two runs. What made it more difficult to comprehend was the fact that the Indian side lost by only one run.
Pakistan were given a lifeline when they were bowled out for 74 and yet, escaped with shared points thanks to some bad weather but lost their first ever game to India in a World Cup. India then beat Zimbabwe to come back into reckoning but that was the last game they had won in the tournament as they lost to West Indies, New Zealand and South Africa in the last three matches to crash out of the tournament.
South Africa did receive some reverses on their way like a loss to the lowly Sri Lankan side but won enough to enter the semi-finals. Pakistan, on the other hand, had one win from five games and looked certain to be going out. On the other hand, both New Zealand and England notched up six successive games without loss to become the first two to go through to the semi-finals. New Zealand made it seven out of seven when they overcame England, who then lost to Zimbabwe as well. Interestingly, England needed to chase only 135 for a win and were bowled out for 125.
South Africa, Australia, West Indies and Pakistan were involved in a tussle for the third and the fourth semi-final spot. As it turned out, South Africa won their last game against India chasing down 181 in 30 overs to get to 10 points while Pakistan overturned their disastrous campaign by winning three matches in a row. This included a win over New Zealand, the only team that managed to beat the Kiwis in the tournament.
Still, Pakistan ended with nine points as compared to West Indies, who had eight points going into the last league game against Australia. The Aussies won and also got to eight points which meant that Pakistan (9), who had looked like going out of the tournament at the halfway mark were through to the semi-finals. They did not look back after that.
The first semi-final pitted New Zealand against Pakistan. The Kiwis had lost their previous game to the same rivals but by then they had qualified for the semi-finals. Pakistan needed that win to go through and that meant that the home team (the game was played in Auckland) went in as favourites.
At the halfway mark, the Kiwis had got to 262/7 in their 50 overs thanks to a superb 91 by Martin Crowe, who had led the side up to then with great aplomb. Unfortunately for the Kiwis, he had to retire hurt after the innings and failed to take field which meant that the side was led by John Wright in the second innings.
Still, chasing 263 for the win, the Pakistanis looked dead and buried at 140/4 and with very few overs remaining. In walked Inzamam-ul-Haq and smashed an innings that is often described as one of the best in World Cup cricket. As a precocious teenager, he slammed 60 off 37 balls and by the time he was dismissed the Pakistani side had got home to a four wicket win with an over to spare.
If this was an exciting game, the second one looked to be going right down to the wire as well. Built on Graeme Hick’s 83, the English side set South Africa a target of 253 in 45 overs. And at one stage, the South Africans needed 22 to win the game off the last 13 balls with Brian McMillan and Dave Richardson at the crease.
And then, it rained. One over was deducted from South Africa’s chase without any run being deducted. By the time the two teams came onto the ground, one more over was deducted for the loss of one run which meant that the South Africans now needed 21 runs to win the game but had only one ball in hand. The dubious rain rule had caused one of the biggest travesties of all time at such an important stage in the tournament and South Africa were denied a berth in the final.
Instead, England were to play Pakistan in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat first. Derek Pringle sent back both the openers, but the partnership between Imran Khan and Javed Miandad steadied the ship for the Pakistanis. The two were very slow to begin with, but in the second half of the innings began to pick up the runs at will. Miandad and Imran were involved in a 139-run stand and by the time Miandad left, the foundation had been set for another Inzamam onslaught that took them to 249/6 in 50 overs.
250 was going to be a stiff chase and it was made stiffer by the early loss of four wickets. Ian Botham, Alec Stewart, Graeme Hick and captain Graham Gooch were all dismissed for under 70 and despite a fifth wicket stand of 72 runs between Neil Fairbrother and Allan Lamb, the English side were always behind the run-rate.
Then Wasim Akram was recalled into the attack and he took two wickets in two balls to send the English side back. Fairbrother scored 62 but none of the other batsmen contributed and the English side were bowled out for 227 to allow Pakistan to win the World Cup.
Key Tournament Statistics
Crowe ended the tournament with the most number of runs, 456, while Wasim Akram scalped 18 wickets to top the bowling charts. Crowe was declared the man of the series for his superb efforts with the bat and as a captain.