Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 3 April 2020

On this day, March 25, 1992: Imran Khan inspires Pakistan to World Cup glory

Captain leads team to glory as they beat England in Melbourne

Pakistan, led by Imran Khan, beat England to win the 1992 World Cup at Melbourne Cricket Ground. Getty
Pakistan, led by Imran Khan, beat England to win the 1992 World Cup at Melbourne Cricket Ground. Getty

Cricket’s World Cup came blundering garishly into the modern age at the 1992 World Cup when sides wore coloured clothing for the first time and the final was played under lights.

For the first time in history, Pakistan became world champions as they beat England in the final at the MCG, on this day 28 years ago.

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Not that that seemed likely midway through the competition.

At that point, Pakistan had taken just one win from five games, against unheralded Zimbabwe, and their only other points came via a washout against England after they had already been bowled out for 74.

Then, ahead of a last-chance group match against Australia, Imran Khan inspired his side with a dressing-room speech that has gone down in lore.

“He convinced every person in that dressing room, we win this game and we can win the World Cup,” Aaqib Javed, one of Pakistan’s champions, told The National in 2015.

“He came in wearing the tiger shirt and said, ‘Look, I want to talk to you’.

“When he started we were looking at each other and thinking, what is going on? From this stage?

“He said: ‘wounded tigers get angry, don’t get disappointed.’

“We were really angry. I had the best game in my career. I felt like no one could touch me. I was saying, ‘Come on, give me the ball.’

“Everyone was charged. All 11 players in that dressing room were sensing victory and success. That is the kind of leadership you need.”

Some of the World Cup winners have played down the importance of Imran’s oration to what followed. Others claim they cannot even remember it happening.

But Aaqib reckons it infused them with a self-belied that carried them through to the title.

Wasim Akram was man of the match in the final for a performance that included two of the most memorable deliveries ever bowled in a World Cup final.

He broke England’s challenge by dismissing Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in successive deliveries.

“I think it sunk in that we won the World Cup only two days later,” Wasim subsequently said.

Aaqib, who took 2-27 and held a brilliant catch to remove England captain Graham Gooch in the final, agreed.

“We never felt what we had done after the final,” Aaqib said. “We are world champions, oh good. But when we landed in Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of people were out cheering and smiling.

“That Pakistan I haven’t seen after that. Everyone was so happy, so proud to be Pakistani.

“We were happy as a team. When we landed in Pakistan, we realised it was more than a team.”

As is typical of Pakistan-England fixtures, the match was not without niggle.

When Ian Botham fell for a duck, Aamer Sohail suggested his team would be better sending his mother-in-law in to bat instead, in reference to disparaging remarks Botham had made previously about Pakistan.

“We never discussed it, but good on him [Sohail],” Aaqib said of the incident.

“We used to have a really tough team. We felt we could take anyone on. Even the Australians were wary of us.

“That was because of Imran. He made us so proud and big, we thought we were the best and had to be treated nicely.”

Updated: March 25, 2020 10:27 AM

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