On this day in 1992, the fifth edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup got underway in Australia and New Zealand.
The 1992 Cricket World Cup was a tournament full of firsts. Coloured kits made their debut, as did white balls, while it was the first time the men’s World Cup had been held in the southern hemisphere.
To mark the anniversary of the start of the tournament, we look back at the top performers and key moments from the 1992 Cricket World Cup.
Led by Imran Khan, Pakistan famously lifted the Cricket World Cup for the first time in 1992.
It was far from an easy ride though, with only one win from their opening five games leaving the prospect of Khan’s side being knocked out in the group stage looking very likely. However, three wins from their last three group games helped edge Pakistan into the knock-out stage, finishing a point clear of Australia in fifth.
In their way at the semi-final stage were tournament favourites New Zealand, who had won seven of their eight round-robin games to comfortably top the table at the end of the group stage.
Their only defeat in the group came against Pakistan, and it was a case of déjà vu in the semi-finals as Pakistan chased down New Zealand’s 262/7 to book their spot in the final. Inzamam-ul-Haq was the star of the show, smashing 60 from just 37 balls to send Pakistan to their first-ever World Cup final.
England were Pakistan’s opponents in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, in what was Imran Khan’s last-ever ODI appearance. Captain Khan led by example with the bat, hitting a crucial 72 to propel Pakistan to 249/6 after their 50 overs. It had to be Khan who had the final say of the game, as he got Richard Illingworth caught by Ramiz Raja to spark wild scenes of celebration at the MCG.
Leading run-scorer: Martin Crowe (456)
New Zealand led the way throughout the group stage, and looked like their dreams of a maiden men’s World Cup title could become a reality, had it not been for an inspired Pakistan performance in the semi-finals.
At the centre of their quality group-stage showings was the late, great Martin Crowe, who excelled with the bat, hitting a century and four half-centuries for the Black Caps during the tournament.
His tournament started with an unbeaten 100* against rivals Australia. He hit back-to-back half-centuries against Zimbabwe (74*) and Windies (81*), before another unbeaten half-century against England (73*) in New Zealand’s penultimate group game.
Crowe’s stunning form continued into the knock-out stage, as he top-scored with 91 from 83 balls in New Zealand’s semi-final defeat to Pakistan, finishing the tournament with a sensational average of 114, higher than any other player.
Leading wicket-taker: Wasim Akram (18)
Pivotal to Pakistan’s glory at the 1992 World Cup was Wasim Akram, who ended the tournament as the leading wicket-taker with 18.
Akram, who was 25 years old at the time, started the tournament with a wicketless showing against West Indies, but followed it up with 3/21 against Zimbabwe.
His best figures of the tournament came in Pakistan’s crucial final group game against New Zealand, when he took 4/32, including the key wickets of Andrew Jones and Martin Crowe, who both fell cheaply.
Two more wickets against New Zealand followed in the semi-final, before an exceptional spell in the final against England helped set Pakistan up for a famous win.
He disposed of the dangerous Ian Botham for a duck – caught behind by Moin Khan – early on to leave England 6/1. With Allan Lamb and Neil Fairbrother ticking along nicely after 34 overs, Imran Khan went to his main man, Akram, in an attempt to stop the flow. And that he did. His famous fast-paced swing was too much for Lamb – and then new batsman Chris Lewis – as he took two wickets in two balls to change the momentum of the game.
Player of the Tournament: Martin Crowe
Not only did Martin Crowe finish the 1992 Cricket World Cup as leading run-scorer, he was also named Player of the Tournament, as his pioneering captaincy almost led New Zealand to their first-ever men’s World Cup final.
Crowe’s unique decision-making helped turn New Zealand into World Cup favourites as the tournament progressed, only to be stopped by eventual winners Pakistan in the semi-finals.
His decision to open the bowling with spinner Dipak Patel in the opening game showed he was ahead of his time, with Patel going for just 36 runs off his 10 overs, taking the key wicket of Australia captain Allan Border in the process. He also gave the flamboyant Mark Greatbatch the responsibility of opening the batting, a decision vindicated by Greatbatch’s pinch-hitting throughout the tournament at the top of the order. Greatbatch averaged 44.71 at the 1992 World Cup, hitting half-centuries against South Africa (68), West Indies (63) and India (73).
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