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Cricket World Cup History: Moin Khan - dependable, brilliant, and a team man to the core

ANALYST
Feature
170   //    Timeless

Moin Khan, scintillating with the bat, brilliant with the gloves.
Moin Khan, scintillating with the bat, brilliant with the gloves.

Moin Khan played in two World Cups. Pakistan won the first and finished runners-up in the other. In between he missed the tournament staged at home. His contribution was vital, not only behind the stumps but also at the crease. Ever the fighter, he has been a tremendous motivator who constantly egged on his teammates to greater efforts. He easily surpassed compatriot Wasim Bari’s record of dismissals in this event and belted out scintillating knocks with the bat.

As his team worked its way through the 1992 campaign, Moin was efficient behind the stumps. He showed glimpses of his prowess as a batsman in the semi-final, playing an aggressive innings to bring up victory over New Zealand. His unbroken seventh-wicket stand with Javed Miandad saw Pakistan home in the penultimate over. Having already thumped a boundary, Moin hit a six and a four to finish off the match with an over to spare, his unbeaten 20 coming off 11 balls.

Sir Colin Cowdrey said:

He’s gone to the wicket and two minutes later he had hit the ball - and not a bad ball by any means - up to the tenth row of the stand. You can’t set a field for that. That’s a captain’s nightmare.

In the final he took three catches as his team snuffed out the English challenge. It was a satisfying tournament for 20-year-old Moin. To miss out on the 1996 event was, therefore, a disappointment.

In 1999 he was one of the key elements in the Pakistani side. His wicketkeeping was top-class and - equally important - he played several exciting innings down the order. His strike rate at 110.50 runs per 100 balls, or 6.63 runs per over, was among the best in the tournament.

As newcomers Scotland surprisingly had Pakistan down on the turf at 92 for five, Moin joined Yousuf Youhana in a face-saving stand of 103. Moin hit 47 off 41 balls with 5 fours before he was caught playing the reverse sweep. He then took three catches to round off a pleasant outing. 

In a tense clash of the titans, Moin smashed the classy Australian attack in a splendid cameo. He made a mess of Glenn McGrath’s analysis by crashing 3 sixes off him. He had 2 fours besides, as he blazed away to an unbeaten 31 off a mere 12 deliveries. That in the end might have swung the match Pakistan’s way as the margin ultimately was 10 runs in a high-scoring match.

Moin took only 17 balls to score 19 with 3 fours off the Kiwi attack, putting on 41 for the sixth wicket with Inzamam-ul-Haq. Even as his side went down in a shock defeat to Bangladesh, Moin maintained his strike-rate. But with his dismissal for 18, the last ray of hope vanished and Pakistan faced one of their worst embarrassments ever in the game.

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As the South Africans knocked Pakistan over in their super-six encounter, Moin put on 56 for the seventh wicket with Azhar Mahmood. He hit up his only half-century in the World Cup before being run out for 63 off 56 balls with 2 sixes and 6 fours. Then, as India continued their dominance over Pakistan in the World Cup, Moin played yet another sweet little innings. Coming in at 78 for five, he put on 46 with Inzamam. Of these he scored 34 off 37 balls.

As Pakistan found their feet again in their last Super-Six match against Zimbabwe, Moin helped Saqlain Mushtaq secure a hat-trick by stumping his first two victims, Henry Olonga and Adam Huckle.

New Zealand were easy meat in the semi-final and Moin was hardly called upon to play his part. He registered his first real failure of the tournament in a surprisingly one-sided final against Australia.

Had his team triumphed, Moin would have become the third player, after West Indians Deryck Murray and Alvin Kallicharran, to have played in World Cup-winning teams in both tournaments that he appeared. Later another scintillating hitter and wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist won all the three World Cups that he played, beginning with this one.

The Cup may have slipped, but Moin stood firm. While he dazzled with the bat, he set the bar higher with his wicketkeeping. It was indeed a brilliant tournament for him personally. In nine innings he hit up 242 runs at an average of 34.57, a highest score of 63, and strike-rate well over a-run-per-ball. That for a wicketkeeper is outstanding.

He dazzled behind the stumps too, snapping up 12 catches and effecting 4 stumpings in the 10 matches, equalling Jeff Dujon's 1983 record of the most dismissals in a World Cup, which was broken by Gilchrist in 2003.

Moin's musical chairs of alternate World Cups with Rashid Latif continued, the latter being preferred for the 2003 edition. Having snared 30 dismissals, the highest in the World Cup, till Gilchrist overtook him, and Kumar Sangakkara eventually took the record in 2015. Moin had the maximum number of 7 stumpings to his credit, later equalled by Gilchrist, and bettered by Sangakkara.

Coupled with a batting strike-rate of 106.31 and a near-30 average, he was a priceless asset to Pakistan. His fierce determination to succeed was as exemplary as his selfless display as a team man. Ever the inspiration to his colleagues, Moin Khan has been one of the brightest stars in the galaxy of wicketkeepers who have appeared in the World Cup.

Moin Khan’s World Cup career:

Matches: 20, Highest Score: 63, Runs: 286, Average: 28.60, Strike-rate: 106.31, Fifty: 1, Catches: 23, Stumpings: 7

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