With the eighth World Cup so near I have been reliving memories of the past editions of the tournament. The 1992 World Cup was the one I followed most closely and the first memories I have, or most people would have, are of Mark Greatbatch and 'hitting out' in the early overs. It was the legend of the '92, World Cup and became an integral part one-day international cricket.
World Cup 1992, overall, was considered a World Cup of innovation and the Kiwis, playing to home advantage, led the way.
In the opening match they surprised everyone, including the Australians, by opening the batting with pinch-hitter Rod Latham, and the bowling with Deepak Patel. The concepts of slow bowlers and pinch-hitters had been tried in the 1987 World Cup but they were used to perfection in the 1992 edition. Mark Greatbatch led the way, with Brian Lara, Ian Botham et all following suit as pinch-hitters.
The biggest irony of the 1992 World Cup though was Imran Khan's Pakistan winning it by playing one-day cricket in the eighties' fashion.
In the eighties, the thumb rules to win a one-day international were: a. 250 is a very good target; b. score 150 in the first 40 overs without losing many wickets; c. once you are in that position, try to score at 10 runs per over and get close to 250; d. ask your bowlers to attack and take wickets rather than try to restrict the opposition.
Let's see how Imran's Pakistan played to these conventional thumb rules, especially in semi-finals and final.
Riding on the leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed's success against New Zealand in the last league game, Imran picked a second leg-spinner, Iqbal Sikander (playing the second and last one-day international of his career), ahead of Ijaz Ahmed. Mushtaq had New Zealand on the fence before Martin Crowe and Ken Rutherford put together a great partnership to take New Zealand to 262.
In reply, Pakistan started slowly, keeping their wickets, with Imran making 44 of 93 balls. At 140 for 4, the stage was set for Inzamam to play the innings of his life and he did play it -- 60 of 37 balls -- to take Pakistan to their first ever World Cup final.
In the final, Pakistan repeated the formula. Javed Miandad and Imran stitched together a slow partnership in the middle overs, getting to 150 in 40 overs, before Inzamam-ul Haq and Wasim Akram put the England attack to sword, getting 99 in the last 10 overs to take Pakistan to a respectable 249. Mushtaq then had the English batsmen playing all over the place before Neil Fairborther and Allan Lamb threatened to stage a comeback. Imran called upon Akram, who produced two consecutive beauties to account for Lamb and Chris Lewis off successive balls and ensured a Pakistani victory.