SK Flashback: Runs galore as Sri Lanka overcome Zimbabwe in last over finish at 1992 World Cup
Pukekura Park was an unfamiliar venue in an equally strange New Zealand town of New Plymouth about 260 kilometres north of the capital, Wellington. This rich dairy-farming region must have whetted the appetite of the batsmen, for they went on an unprecedented run-feast.
Zimbabwe began the spree, but not at the outset. The first three wickets fell at regular intervals and at 82, Andy Flower was joined by Kevin Arnott. They put on 85 for the fourth wicket, with Arnott scoring a polished 52.
His dismissal only opened the floodgates. Andrew Waller walked in at No. 6 and he milked the bowling as the locals would their cows.
The rampaging Waller took only 32 balls to reach his half-century. He went on to crash 9 boundaries and 3 sixes; his unbeaten 83 came off only 45 deliveries as he left the Lankans watching helplessly.
Flower played the anchor role and in the process got into the record books as well. He became the third batsman to score a century on debut in one-day internationals, and one of six to achieve the feat on his first appearance in a World Cup match at that stage. This has been accomplished by 10 more batsmen in the World Cup till 2015.
Flower also joined Glenn Turner, Sunil Gavaskar and Geoff Marsh in batting through a World Cup innings. Again, after him this has occurred on another 10 occasions in World Cup matches up to 2015.
Flower and Waller put on the then World Cup record of 145 runs for the fifth wicket. Zimbabwe raised their then highest one-day total, as the innings ended at 312 for four in 50 overs.
The score seemed adequate for them to register their second victory in the World Cup, but the Sri Lankans believed otherwise.
Roshan Mahanama and Athula Samarasekara gave them the flying start that was a pre-requisite for chasing such a large total. They put on 128 runs and brought the match on an even keel.
Then in the urgency, wickets started falling. But Arjuna Ranatunga is nothing if not a man for the big occasion. He took charge of the innings mid-way and secured whatever assistance he could from his teammates.
Ranatunga played a pivotal role and timed the chase to perfection. While he was at the crease it looked more and more evident that victory would come Sri Lanka’s way.
Sure enough, he stayed till the end as his side achieved the enormous task in the last over. It was a superb unbeaten 88 from the rotund left-hander; he took just 61 balls to score those runs, smashing a six and 9 fours.
Sri Lanka’s 313 for seven was then the highest total for a team batting second in a One-day International. The match aggregate of 625 for 11 wickets was just one run fewer than that achieved by Pakistan and Sri Lanka for the loss of 14 wickets at Swansea in 1983, but that was in a 60-overs-a-side match.
Here in 1992, the minnows of international cricket had set a new standard in scoring rates.
Zimbabwe: 312 for 4 wickets (50 overs), Sri Lanka: 313 for 7 wickets (49.2 overs) (CWC 1992)
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