SK Flashback: Star turn by Wasim Akram as Pakistan lift the 1992 World Cup
The grand finale in 1992 approached after more than a month of the modern version of cricket. While Pakistan seemed to be peaking at the right time, England appeared as though they were stumbling after a tremendous start.
But on the final afternoon, the run of play looked different.
The gangling, and accurate, Derek Pringle removed both the openers Aamir Sohail and Rameez Raja cheaply. That forced the old war-horses Imran Khan and Javed Miandad to buckle down and retrieve the situation, preventing them from pushing up the run-rate.
By the time they brought up their century stand, 35 overs had already been bowled. The score stood at 125 for two.
Only in the final third did the senior pros begin to accelerate. They took their partnership to 139 before Miandad left for 58, having become the second batsman to reach 1000 runs in the World Cup and displaced Vivian Richards as the highest run-getter.
Imran then fell for 72. That set the stage for Inzamam-ul-Haq and Wasim Akram to launch the final assault.
They simply waded into the bowling. Inzamam, picking up from where he had left off in the semi-final, crashed 42 off 35 balls. But it was the powerful, left-handed big-hitter Wasim Akram who really set the huge Melbourne stadium ablaze.
He smashed 33 runs off a mere 19 balls, with four sizzling boundaries. As the innings drew to a close, their stand was worth 52.
Both were dismissed at the ultimate total of 249. Pakistan had smashed 124 runs off the last 15 overs, at a run-rate of over 8.25, and as a result the match had been thrown wide open.
Akram was not through yet. He struck a huge blow right at the start of the English innings, having Ian Botham caught behind without scoring.
Aaqib Javed and the leggie Mushtaq Ahmed were bowling well too, and they soon reduced England to 69 for four.
One-day specialist Neil Fairbrother and Allan Lamb, ever the gritty fighter, then got down to the business of repairing the innings. They put on 72, and at 141 for four England were making a match of it.
They did not, however, reckon with Akram. Captain Imran told him to attack: "Don't worry about the extras, just get them."
The paceman struck with such deadly effect that the English were knocked out and left gasping for breath. Akram clean bowled Lamb, and off the very next delivery went through the defence of Chris Lewis too. England were once again in serious trouble.
Much as Fairbrother and the later batsmen tried, the English had to resign themselves to the inevitable. They lost their second successive final, and third in four tournaments. Maybe next time they would like to bat first.
On the big day, Akram's stunning all-round performance was the single most important factor in winning the twinkling crystal globe for Pakistan. Some thrilling batting and devastating bowling by this enormously talented left-hander helped skipper Imran realise his dream.
It was indeed a star turn by a true great.
Pakistan: 249 for 6 wickets (50 overs), England 227 all out (49.2 overs) (CWC 1992)
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