SK Flashback: Imran Khan leads Pakistan to 1992 World Cup triumph
Pakistan did not come into the 1992 World Cup with very high expectations as they were dealt a couple of injury blows before the start of the tournament. The likes of Saeed Anwar and Waqar Younis were ruled out of the tournament owing to injuries.
However, under the leadership of the charismatic Imran Khan, who was playing his final tournament, Pakistan defied all odds to reach the semi-finals thanks to the brilliant performances of Wasim Akram, Mushtaq Ahmed, Aamer Sohail, Imran Khan and Rameez Raja, just to name a few.
The Men in Green scripted a major upset in the semis by defeating Martin Crowe's New Zealand who, at the time, were one of the favourites to lift the trophy. In the final, Pakistan were up against Graham Gooch's England who reached their third World Cup final thanks to the Duckworth-Lewis method which helped them defeat South Africa in their semi-final. The final was held on this very day 26 years ago at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne.
Poor start by Pakistan followed by the resurrection of the innings by Imran and Miandad
England were the favorites coming into the final as they had previously bowled out Pakistan for a paltry 74 during the group stages although the match was abandoned due to rain.
Pakistan batted first but got off to a horrible start with Derek Pringle dismissing openers Aamer Sohail and Rameez Raja for 4 and 8 respectively.
Skipper Imran Khan promoted himself to No. 3 and was joined at the crease by Javed Miandad. The duo batted with calm and poise and made sure that Pakistan lost no more wickets for a good period of time.
Both players reached their fifties and added 139 runs for the third wicket. The partnership was broken when Miandad was caught by Ian Botham off Richard Illingworth's bowling for 58 from 98 deliveries. Imran Khan was then joined by Inzamam ul-Haq and he went on to score 72 from 110 balls before being caught by Illingworth off Botham's bowling.
The finishing touch by Inzamam and Wasim Akram
Following Imran's dismissal, Akram came out to join Inzamam at the crease. Both players batted aggressively (Akram in particular) with the elevation of Pakistan's run rate being their sole focus. The duo added 52 for the fifth wicket before Inzy was clean bowled by Pringle in the penultimate ball of the innings for a 35-ball 42.
Akram was run out in the final ball for 33 off just 18 deliveries and Pakistan ended their innings at 249/6.
Wasim Akram, Mushtaq Ahmed and Aaqib Javed get the job done for Pakistan
Like Pakistan, England were also off to a poor start as Botham was dismissed for a duck by Wasim before Alec Stewart was dismissed by Aaqib Javed for just 7.
Skipper Graham Gooch and Graeme Hick tried to do what Imran and Miandad did earlier for Pakistan but they couldn't last and were both dismissed by Mushtaq Ahmed. England were struggling at 69/4 with Neil Fairbrother and Allan Lamb at the crease.
The two batted really well and added 72 for the fifth wicket to keep England in the game. However, their partnership was broken by Wasim who bowled Lamb before shattering Lewis's stumps in the next delivery. Akram couldn't complete his hat-trick but put England in a very difficult situation at 141/6.
Fairbrother tried his best to keep England's hopes alive and reached his half-century. However, he was dismissed by Javed for 62 and that more or less put paid to England's chances of a World Cup win.
The likes of Pringle, Phil DeFreitas and Illingworth chipped in with a few runs but it was too little too late for England.
Imran ended his international career by dismissing Illingworth thanks to Rameez Raja's catch as Pakistan won the 1992 Cricket World Cup. Wasim was adjudged the Man of the Match for his all-round effort.
While lifting the trophy, Imran expressed his desire to build a cancer hospital, stating that this World Cup would go a long way in fulfilling that obsession. This was undoubtedly the greatest moment in the history of Pakistan cricket and a moment that every Pakistan fan will always cherish.