28 years to the day Pakistan won the Cricket World Cup after defeating England by 22 runs in the final at Melbourne Cricket Ground. On this anniversary of Pakistan’s first and to date only world cup win we take a statistical trip down memory lane.
Pakistan’s world cup victory was largely down to Wasim Akram’s performance in the tournament, especially his three wickets in the final against England and four in a must-win group match against New Zealand in Christchurch. Akram ended the tournament with 18 wickets, the most for any bowler in World Cup 1992. His average 18.77 was the best among those who claimed at least ten wickets.
He was also one of the eight bowlers in the tournament who took four wickets (the aforementioned 4-32 spell against the Kiwis). Surprisingly, no bowler took a five-wicket haul in the event and even today it is the only Cricket World Cup without a five-for.
It was a difficult World Cup for batsmen as only eight centuries were scored in the entire tournament. Pakistan were the only team that produced three centuries – two by Ramiz Raja (119 not out vs NZ in Christchurch & 102 not out vs West Indies in Melbourne) and one by Aamer Sohail (114 against Zimbabwe in Hobart). The next best were Australians with two hundreds, both scored by David Boon. Ramiz’s 119 was the highest individual score in World Cup 1992.
Pakistan were rescued in the semi-final against New Zealand by Inzamam-ul-Haq’s counter-attacking innings of 60 off 37 balls in a chase of 263. Inzamam reached 50 off just 31 balls which even today remains the fastest half-century by a Pakistan batsman in the Cricket World Cup. It was also the second fastest of the 1992 edition after Martin Crowe’s 30-ball effort against Zimbabwe in Napier. Inzamam’s 31-ball 50 remained the fastest half-century in World Cup Semi Finals and Finals until Brendon McCullum scored 50 off 22 balls against South Africa in Auckland in 2015.
Setting an example of leading from the front, Pakistan captain Imran Khan, who had batted at number three only once in his ODI career before the World Cup, decided to become a one down batsman during the tournament. He came to bat at three in both semi-final and final. The idea paid off as he scored 72 off 110 balls in the final against England becoming the oldest (39 years and 172 days) Pakistan batsman to score a half-century in World Cup. The only batsman older than Imran to score a 50 in the final is Rohani Kanhai (39 years and 177 days) against Australia at Lord’s in 1975.
Strange as it may sound, Pakistan hit only six sixes in the whole tournament and four of those shots came off Imran Khan’s bat - two against New Zealand [in semi-final] and one each against Australia and England [in final]. The other two Pakistan batsmen who hit a six were Moin Khan and Inzamam, one each against New Zealand in the semi-final in Auckland. South Africa (4) was the only team in the tournament that hit fewer sixes than Pakistan (6).
Although Pakistan had two veterans in Imran and Javed Miandad, the average age of their playing XI in the Final against England was only 26 years and 182 days making them the second youngest team to win the World Cup. Zahid Fazal (18 years and 115 days), the youngest player in the tournament was also in Pakistan’s ranks. However, he didn’t play in the final. Australia in the previous World Cup in 1987 had fielded the youngest team (26 years and 51 days) to win a World Cup Final. Even today these two remain the youngest teams to win World Cup Final.