Imran Khan-ledPakistan picked up momentum towards the latter stages of the 1992 World Cup before going on to corner glory © Getty Images


By Faisal Caesar


According to Imran Khan, the World Cup has its own momentum.  Teams that adapt and evolve find the momentum to be successful. Very few can argue with what Imran said, as nobody knows momentum better.


This year’s World Cup is studded with some charismatic and brilliant teams. India, South Africa, England etc are all front-runners to lift the trophy. But it’s the momentum factor that will be decisive in the end analysis. But what is this momentum of the World Cup and how does one gain it?


Form 1975 to 2007, the most successful sides in the mega event were those that coped well with the pressure. They won important games by holding their nerves to sustain the winning momentum.


In 1975, the West Indies gained the momentum by beating Pakistan at Edgbaston in a heart-stopper. India gained enormous confidence at Tunbridge Wells in 1983 by winning from hopeless position against Zimbabwe, Australia gained the momentum by beating India at Chennai in their opening match in 1987, Pakistan gained their momentum at Perth in their do-or-die encounter against the Aussies.


In 1992, Sri Lanka gained the momentum by thrashing India at Kotla in 1996, Steve Waugh’s men gained the momentum by destroying the West Indies at Manchester in 1999 while Ricky Ponting’s men gained momentum to maintain the Australians’ unbeaten run in 2003 by thrashing Pakistan at the Wanderers even after a hiccup at the start of their innings.


The history of the World Cup has ample evidence of the success formula. Handling pressure to win key matches of the tournament to gain momentum is thus critical.


In 1992, in the opening game of the World Cup, holders Australia lost to dark horse New Zealand. It was a sorry tale for Australia in the end. They failed to gain momentum in one of the crunch games and lost their way.


Pakistan, too, were defeated heavily in their opening match, but went on to lift the trophy. When the pressure was on them, they rose to the occasion to gain momentum. In the important encounter against Australia, Imran’s men gained momentum and sustained it till the very end.


Pre-tournament odds change quickly when the momentum factor comes into play. That’s the key to reaching the pinnacle of success.


(Faisal Caesar is a doctor by profession whose dream of becoming a cricketer remained a dream. But his passion is very much alive and he translates that passion in writing about the game)