World Cup 1992: Wasim Akram, Mushtaq Ahmed, Rameez Raja end New Zealand’s streak
January 15, 2015
New Zealand were on a dream unbeaten streak in World Cup 1992 till they came up against Pakistan at Christchurch on March 18, 1992. The Pakistani bowlers, hell-bent on clinching a victory, restricted them to a low score before Rameez Raja scored a spectacular hundred. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the day that decided the fate of the World Cup.
The New Zealand juggernaut rolled along throughout the tournament, winning seven matches on the trot. Let alone win, no team managed to challenge them to a fight: Martin Crowe, with his bat and tactical acumen, led the way; he promoted a belligerent Mark Greatbatch to the top; opened bowling with Dipak Patel; and used a pack of four medium-paced all-rounders (Chris Harris, Gavin Larsen, Willie Watson, and Rod Latham). The Kiwis — unbeaten till then in the tournament — were the team to beat.
Halfway through the World Cup, nobody gave Pakistan a chance to reach the semifinal, let alone lift the Trophy. They turned things around as the tournament progressed, and though kept winning matches, they never looked like a World Cup winning outfit till their eighth match.
While New Zealand were safely perched on 14 points, and were set to go through to the semi-final at the top of the table. England, on 11, would be at number two, and South Africa (10) at three. One other spots was up for the grabs, with three teams — West Indies (eight), Pakistan (seven), and Australia (six) and fighting for them.
There were three matches scheduled for the last day. One of them was to be played between England (already qualified) and Zimbabwe (already eliminated), so it did not matter. Not only did Pakistan need to win, they also needed Australia to beat West Indies later that night. It was under these circumstances that Imran Khan went out to toss with Crowe, and put New Zealand in.
Wasim and Mushtaq Prevail
Greatbatch launched himself into Aaqib Javed in the second over of the match, leg-glancing and flicking him for fours before lofting him over long-on for six. Latham cut Wasim Akram for four before edging one to first slip off Aaqib; the first wicket had added a mere 23, but they were only in the fourth over.
Wasim responded by trapping Andrew Jones leg-before with a low full-toss, and followed it with the big wicket: he pitched one up on leg-stump, and Crowe, who could have hit easily for four, holed out to square-leg. Ken Rutherford dug in, but the runs stopped coming, though Greatbatch kept finding the gaps with his cuts and pulls.
Imran introduced Mushtaq Ahmed; Mushtaq controlled the ball as if on a thread, and put the googly in the mix to keep the batsmen at bay. Greatbatch and Rutherford added 46, mostly due to nudges and pushes by the former; Rutherford edged one off Imran, but Moin Khan dropped a sitter behind the stumps. His 35-ball struggle of eight ended when he pushed one to point and ran, only to fall short of Wasim’s throw.
With Mushtaq almost impossible to score off, Harris went for a drive to one outside off; it was ruled a wide, but Moin’s glovework found Harris short of the crease. Then Greatbatch tried to sweep Mushtaq, but the ball flew straight to Inzamam-ul-Haq at fine leg. Greatbatch’s 42 had taken him 67 balls.
Imran brought one back in from just short of good length; it was too good for Ian Smith. The ball that crashed on to the stumps probably reminded old-timers of King Khan of the 1980s. Finally, when Patel was caught brilliantly by Mushtaq at point off Aamer Sohail, New Zealand were left reeling at 106 for eight. Of the top eight, only Greatbatch had managed to go past ten.
Thankfully for them, Morrison hung around with Larsen (it was the first time that either of them batted in the tournament), and the pair managed to add 44 for the ninth wicket to give the score some respectability. Moin, meanwhile, had managed to take the bails off with the batsman’s leg in the air, but Steve Bucknor ruled it in the batsman’s favour.
Morrison finally edged one to first slip off Wasim in the 45th over. Watson hung around with Larsen, helping him to add another 16 before Larsen gave Wasim the charge, yorked himself, and was dismissed for 37. New Zealand, bowled out for 166, fell ten balls short of the stipulated 50 overs.
Though Wasim finished with four for 32, two of the wickets belonged to tail-enders. While Aaqib, Imran, and Sohail all contributed, the star of the day was undoubtedly Mushtaq, who was almost impossible to score off: the side that had beaten every other in the tournament could not fathom his variations. Mushtaq finished with figures of 10-0-18-2, and some would agree that he bowled better than even that.
Rameez Sails Through
Morrison’s first ball was a fast bouncer. Sohail went for the hook, top-edged, and Patel took an easy catch at deep fine-leg. Sohail was not happy, for replays suggested the ball might have bounced above shoulder-level, which was a no-ball as per the 1992 laws. Steve Randell, standing at square-leg, ruled him out.
Morrison bounced again, but Inzamam was ready: he immediately hooked him through square-leg for four. The next one jagged back from just short of a length and clean bowled Inzamam. Pakistan were nine for two in the third over: did New Zealand sniff victory at this stage?
Rameez, still innocuous at the other end, was joined by Javed Miandad. Lopsided partnerships involving Miandad usually end up having on the winning side, but this was Rameez’s day. He flicked and on-drove Morrison for fours to begin with. Shortly afterwards, Miandad hit one back to Patel, who, diving to his left, could not hold on to the catch. The score remained 28 for two. Miandad was on three.
Patel continued to trouble Miandad, though Rameez played him comfortably, and lofted him over mid-wicket for four. He bowled almost as good as Mushtaq, and finished with figures of 10-0-25-0. Watson came along, and the pressure was lifted with Rameez driving him for fours.
Morrison came round the wicket and bowled short-pitched deliveries, but Miandad was competent enough to handle the awkward bounce. Crowe brought on Harris and Larsen, but they did not have much of an impact on Rameez, who kept feasting on anything pitched short. Latham came on, and was driven imperiously through cover.
As Pakistan brought up their hundred in the 31st over, Crowe brought Morrison back for the last roll of the die. Rameez did not slow down: Morrison tried to bounce him, but Rameez kept on pulling. Morrison eventually trapped Miandad leg-before — though not before he had scored 30 and helped Rameez to put up 115 in just approximately 33 overs.
Saleem Malik walked out, and Rameez continued with his cuts, pulls, and drives. With Morrison, Patel, and Watson all bowling through and the match as good as over, Crowe did not want to risk his specialists before the semifinal. Rameez brought up his hundred in the 41st over; Pakistan had scored only 142 by then.
Not only was it the second hundred of the tournament for Rameez, but he also became the second batsman to score three World Cup hundreds (after Viv Richards). Things turned a bit lighter after that with Jones, Rutherford, and even Greatbatch rolling their arms.
Rameez eventually finished things off with a wild hoick over mid-wicket. He remained unbeaten on a 155-ball 119 with 16 fours. He could well have been the Man of the Match, but the adjudicators decided to go with Mushtaq.
Pakistan’s World Cup Hero
As mentioned above, Rameez became the second cricketer to score three World Cup 100s during the course of the innings.
Pakistan’s fairytale continued as Australia beat West Indies in the last match of the league phase. This also meant that Pakistan finished as the fourth team, and faced New Zealand in the semifinal.
New Zealand batted first again in the semifinal at Eden Park and lost again. Pakistan beat England to clinch the World Cup.
New Zealand 166 in 48.2 overs (Mark Greatbatch 42; Wasim Akram 4 for 32) lost to Pakistan 167 for 3 in 44.4 overs (Rameez Raja 119*; Danny Morrison 3 for 42) by 7 wickets.
Man of the Match: Mushtaq Ahmed.
Courtesy: THE CRICKET COUNTRY