Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup triumph is a stuff of legends. They lost three of their first 5 matches, rain saved them at Adelaide where they folded for 74, suddenly changed fortunes and won their next three group matches, all other permutations and combinations went in their favour and against all odds they beat tournament favourites New Zealand in the semi-final in their own backyard before Imran Khan lifted the trophy, on this very day, 28 years ago (March 25, 1992), beating England by 22 runs at the MCG.
While a lot of people remember a young Inzamam-ul-Haq’s 37-ball 60 in the semi-final, Wasim Akram’s devastating spell in the final and Imran Khan’s heroic and astute captaincy, the performance of two of their players who contributed the most in this historic triumph for Pakistan is often forgotten.
MIANADAD WAS THE MOST IMPACTFUL BATSMAN OF THE TOURNAMENT
Javed Miandad was the second-highest scorer of the tournament with 437 runs in 9 innings. What stood out was his remarkable consistency – he did not fail in even one match in the tournament (excluding the abandoned match against England). He registered 5 fifties, 2 forties and 1 thirty and batted at the crucial Number 4 position playing the role of the pivot and the playmaker.
Along with the sheer volume of runs he scored, it was also the context in which he scored them which made his performances critical for Pakistan. He scored tough runs – in three matches Pakistan had lost a couple of early wickets and Miandad came and resurrected the innings giving the platform for the lower order to provide the impetus later.
He also rose to the occasion and displayed excellent big-match temperament in the semi-final and final. He remained unbeaten on 57 against New Zealand letting Inzamam and Moin Khan tear apart the bowling from the other end. At the MCG, he rescued Pakistan from 24 for 2 putting together a century stand with the skipper laying the foundation for the likes of Inzamam and Akram to provide the late flourish.
MUSHTAQ AHMED – THE HIGEHST IMPACT BOWLER OF THE TOURNAMENT
While Wasim Akram made all the headlines and was the highest wicket-taker of the tournament, it was a certain leg-spinner who turned out to be the highest impact bowler of the 1992 World Cup.
Mushtaq was the joint second-highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 16 wickets from 8 innings at 19.43 apiece.
What made him stand out was the quality and timing of his wickets.
15 of the 16 wickets Mushtaq picked were of top-middle order (positions 1 to 6) opposition batsmen. This means he was raising his game against the best opposition batsmen.
After starting off a bit slowly, his performance picked up as the tournament progressed and coincided with Pakistan’s unbeaten run. He broke a threatening partnership between Dean Jones and Geoff Marsh against Australia at Perth before making further inroads in the middle-order getting rid of Allan Border and Mark Waugh. Australia collapsed from 116 for 2 to 172 all out.
He did not let the Sri Lanka top-order forge any big partnership picking the 2
nd and 3 rd wickets to fall breaking the opposition’s momentum. He was brilliantly restrictive against New Zealand conceding just 18 runs in his 10 overs never letting their batsmen off the hook also picking the wickets of Chris Harris and Mark Greatbatch in succession ending any chance of a New Zealand fightback.
His form continued in the knockouts. He saw the back of John Wright and Andrew Jones in the semi-final and picked the crucial wickets of Graeme Hick and Graham Gooch in quick succession in the final not letting England get away after the initial breakthroughs by the fast bowlers.
Along with the sheer quality of his wickets and the context of his performances, Mushtaq’s amazing consistency – he picked at least 2 wickets in 6 of the 8 innings he bowled – was one of the major reasons for Pakistan’s success in the tournament.
While Imran, Inzamam and Akram deserve all the credit and praise let us not forget the significant contributions of the two Ms of that 1992 outfit!