Tuesday, March 25, 2008

16 Years Ago On This Date...

Pakistan won the ODI World Cup on this day. 25th March 1992.

Not many Pakistan cricket fans will forget that date.

Maybe if we as a country had more to be proud of or had we won the world cup 4 times like the Aussies, 25th March wouldn't hold much significance. But the fact that that is the only time that Pakistan won the world cup and that too of a sport that is close to religion and life for some, 25th March is significant. It is very significant.

That period of the early 90s was also a good overall period for sports in Pakistan. Apart from the cricket world cup, Pakistan won the hockey world cup in 1994, Jansher Khan was the number 1 ranked squash player at that time, and Mohammad Yousuf (not the artist formerly known as Yohanna) was the world snooker champion. Sadly such is no more the case.

Moving back to happy times.

I was all of 12 when the 1992 world cup took place, and I was just starting to get the grasp of the nitty gritties of cricket as a player and a watcher.

The '92 world cup collided with the boom of the sattellite dish in the Middle East and watchingm LIVE cricket on TV apart from the tournaments held in Sharjah, was a new phenomenon in the UAE.

The dish in our house was installed on the day Pakistan was to start its campaign against the Windies. By the time the decoder caught the signal, Rameez Raja was approaching his 100 and Pakistan's innings was coming to a close.

Pakistan lost that match and also those against India and South Africa. A miracle gave them 1 point in the washed out match against England in which they had been bowled out for a mere 73. After the first 5 games out of 8 in the group stage, Pakistan had only managed to beat Zimbabwe and they had all of 3 points.

With 3 matches to go, the competition seemed over for Pakistan and the newspapers were full of criticism and some journalists had even gone to the extent of reporting the details of the flight that the Pakistani cricketers would be returning on.

The build up to the world cup was hardly any good for Pakistan. Skipper Imran Khan had a shoulder injury, which prevented him from bowling. Their pace spearhead Waqar Younis had broken down with a stress fracture of the back and was ruled out of the world cup. Javed Miandad had been initially dropped from the squad due to indifferent form and Saleem Malik was named the official Vice Captain. Miandad only made it to the squad when Imran Khan informed the management that he won't be able to play in the initial matches.

The squad comprised of a number of inexperienced young cricketers with minimal international experience - Inzamam-ul-Haq, Aamir Sohail, Aaqib Javed, Mushtaq Ahmed were only a year old in international cricket.

Moreover, with Miandad captaining the side ahead of official Vice Captain Saleem Malik when Imran Khan sat out the first few matches, Malik led a mini revolt inside the dressing room disturbing the young inexperienced team.

Many books and documentaries on Pakistan's '92 world cup victory have done the rounds and I'm not sure if this story has been told before. I am sharing it cause it is my favorite and it will probably go down as the moment that turned the tide for Imran Khan's cornered tigers.

The night before the match against Australia, Imran Khan had summoned his troops at the team hotel. Pakistan had just arrived at Perth from Brisbane where they had lost their match to South Africa. The team dressed in their green coats and khaki trousers waited for the skipper and in some time Imran Khan turned up wearing a T-shirt with a tiger printed on its front.

It was then that he spoke to the team about his dream of winning the world cup. About how he wanted everyone to pick themselves up. About how Saleem Malik should think whether he wants to play for Pakistan ever again or not. About how the Pakistanis were cornered like tigers and they had to win all their matches from here and also hope that other results are in their favor for having any chance to make it to the semis. Imran Khan spoke to each member personally in that meeting. He even held a press conference after that requesting the Pakistani public that he believed his team can do it and they all should pray for them.

Pakistan beat Australia the next day. They had never beaten Australia at Perth before that and I doubt they did ever again, but if anyone gets the chance to watch that match again, do so to see what Pakistan can do on a day they believe in themselves.

They went on to beat Sri Lanka in the next game and New Zealand as well who had not lost a single game the whole tournament. Australia managed to beat West Indies in their final league match, which gave Pakistan a ticket to the semi finals. 1 extra point from a rained off game had pushed Pakistan through. It was truly a miracle.

The rest, as everyone says, is history.

Pakistan had won 5 matches on the trot, new heroes were born, Imran Khan's dream had come true, and the Pakistani tigers had won the cricket World Cup!

These memories will hardly ever go.

Wasim Akram's deliveries to Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis
Inzamam-ul Haq's 60 off 37 when he walked out looking at 8 runs an over for victory
Moin Khan's strange shot for 6 in the semi that all but sealed an impossible chase
Javed Miandad doing the sajda after the semi win
Aamir Sohail pointing Botham to the dressing room
Mushtaq Ahmed's googly to Greame Hick
Aaqib Javed's diving catch off Graham Gooch and running around the park
Rameez Raja's running catch to seal the victory in the final
Imran Khan and Javed Miandad hugging after winning the cup
These are moments that are etched in the memory forever.
25th March, this day 16 years ago. I will never forget.

Make your pitch on this post...

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9 Pitched:

  1. David Barry said...

    I was at that match in Perth. I was 8. I don't remember much of it from that day (I got to see some highlights of it during a World Cup rain delay last year) - Dean Jones batted well before holing out at either long on or long off for 47, and generally Australia were outplayed.

    It's a bit disappointing to me that I can't remember any of the Pakistani bowling, except for Mushtaq's whippy action. My memory of matches I go to is remarkably bad (not just from when I was young - I was surprised to learn when reading my notes from the day that I'd seen a spectacular outfield catch in a domestic game a couple of seasons ago. I described it in my notes well enough so that I could picture what happened, but I can't actually remember anything more than a sensation of there being a great catch.). I'd like to have a memory of seeing Wasim Akram, but I don't have one.

  2. Gaurav Sethi said...

    Funny, I was 12 when India won in 1983. Wonderful write there, enjoyed the ride!

  3. Viswanathan said...
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  4. Viswanathan said...

    Actually, more than the match I remember Sunny's comment that he was sure Pakistan will win the final.

    I think he said it just after the semi-finals.

    Anyway, happy memories.

  5. Q said...

    David - thats true. When you're watching a match at the ground you are involved more with the crowd than with the match and an inswinging yorker taking leg stump with it or a diving catch at the boundary would not record itself in the memory like the same when watched on TV umpteen times thanks to the replays and re-runs, etc.

    But I remember that Perth match in 1992 cos I've seen it various times. Aamir Sohail got a 70 odd and Aqib picked up 3 wickets, as did Mushtaq. Wasim Akram and Imran Khan picked up a few as well.

  6. Q said...

    NC - Thats an interesting coincidence :-)

  7. Q said...

    Ottayan - I distinctly remember how Gavaskar backed Pakistan throughout the tournament.

    Besides this comment from him after the semis, Gavaskar kept on saying "you can't count Pakistan out as they are a dangerous team" even when the whole world was expecting Pakistan to come back home soon.

  8. Obaid said...

    Great memories. My top 2-3 memories were:

    1) it was Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, i.e. not eating/drinking from sunrise to sunset. All of used to be up at 4-5am to eat and that used to coincide with the start of the games. There is nothing like eating and watching cricket :)

    2) Pakistan doesnt play much cricket in Australia and the whole imagery of lush green Australian and New Zealand parks with lively crowds along with the colorful player uniforms all added an exotic touch

    3) Even I gave up on us during the semi final. The total to be chased seemed un-attainable so I shut the TV off... when I switched it back on a win was on the cards

  9. Q said...

    Thats right Obaid, it was Ramadan. I remember the semifinal between Pak and NZ was to start at 2am and it was school days so i had gone to bed at 8pm to wake up before 2...i was up, watched the NZ innings and a bit of Pak's and left for school around 7am... the first few classes were spent talking abt the game with others and as soon as we had our first break we were all lined up outside a phone booth to call home and find out what happened. There was chaos in the admin buildng i still remember.

    The Final was on a wednesday i think and the scheduled time in th UAE was 10am, another school day. All he pakis in school had decided to skip school and we all did it with parental consent.

    After the weekend (thurs, fri), 100s of pakis turned up on saturday with notes from home saying how sick we were.

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