The 1992 Cricket World Cup final between Pakistan and England was a classic, and it was the all-round performance of Wasim Akram that was pivotal to determining the destination of the trophy.
Pakistan’s success in the 1992 World Cup was nothing short of remarkable, as they battled back from a woeful start in the group stage to become world champions.
It was an era where Pakistan, led by captain Imran Khan and backed up by the experience of Javed Miandad, had a number of great players still in the early stages of their careers.
Saeed Anwar and Waqar Younis missed out through injury, but Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam-ul-Haq provided quality in the batting ranks, while the likes of Akram and young leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed were a serious threat with the ball.
Yet they struggled for consistency, a theme that would follow in years to come, and it was a miracle that they were even in a position to challenge in the latter stages.
Ramiz Raja (102*) and Miandad (57) helped Pakistan reach 220/2 from their 50 overs against West Indies, but it was a conservative approach rather than a swashbuckling style.
West Indies made them pay as Desmond Haynes (93*) and Brian Lara (88*) put on 175 before Lara was retired hurt. Richie Richardson partnered Haynes for the remainder of the chase as West Indies sealed a routine 10-wicket win with 19 balls to spare.
But they managed to galvanise themselves for the final group games, all of which were must-win for Imran Khan and his side.
Akram was on hand to claim 4-32 as tournament favourites New Zealand were dismissed for just 166, before Pakistan sailed to a comfortable seven-wicket win.
They still needed hosts Australia to beat West Indies to qualify for the semi-finals, but they weren’t to be disappointed and against all the odds, Pakistan had reached the last four.
Co-hosts New Zealand were once again the opponents as Pakistan attempted to reach the Cricket World Cup final.
For much of the semi-final, it looked as though the Kiwis were on course to justify their pre-tournament favouritism.
They reached 262/7 from their 50 overs, which was seen a pretty handy total back in that era, with captain Martin Crowe producing a sublime 91 from just 83 balls.
Pakistan’s reply was going well before wickets in successive overs for Chris Harris and Gavin Larsen left Pakistan 140-4 in the 35th over.
Requiring 123 from 15 overs at Eden Park, the young and explosive Inzamam-ul-Haq joined the veteran Miandad at the crease.
Inzamam struck an imperious 60 from 37 balls to swing the semi-final back in Pakistan’s favour, and despite Inzamam being run out in the 45th over, Moin Khan was able to finish the job alongside Miandad.
Pakistan had astonishingly reached the final, and after farcical scenes in the rain-affected semi-final between the South Africa and England, they would face the latter in the final at the MCG.
Pakistan batted first against 1987 runners-up England and they soon found themselves struggling at 24/2 with opening bowler Derek Pringle seeing off Pakistan’s openers.
Khan and the ever-dependable Miandad steadied the ship with half-centuries and a stand of 139 for the third-wicket, but Pakistan still had work to do when both were dismissed to leave them 197-4 in the 44th over.
Step forward Wasim Akram.
He scored 33 from 18 balls to ensure all the momentum was with Pakistan heading into England’s innings, as he guided Pakistan to 249/6 alongside Inzamam.
Akram took the new ball in England’s reply and struck with the final ball of his second over, as Ian Botham was caught behind without scoring.
England’s innings adopted a similar to theme to Pakistan’s, as Graham Gooch, Neil Fairbrother led a recovery from 21/2.
England found themselves 141/4 after 34 overs, needing 108 runs from 16 overs to win the World Cup. Both Fairbrother and Lamb were well set and the situation couldn’t be more even.
Akram then produced an incredible ball that nipped away and struck Lamb’s off stump, before bowling one that nipped back to Chris Lewis the following ball, again hitting the off stump.
In the blink of an eye, England had gone from 141/4 to 141/6 and Pakistan were well and truly on top.
Fairbrother offered further resistance, but when he fell with the score on 180 in the 43rd over, the writing was on the wall for England.
Pakistan eventually dismissed England for 227 in the last over with Khan taking the final wicket, and Pakistan were champions of the world for the first time.
Akram finished with figures of 3-49 to go with his priceless 33 with the bat, and was unsurprisingly named match of the match for his efforts.
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