World Cup Countdown: A history of the 1992 World Cup
Pakistan captain Imran Khan holds aloft the 199w World Cup. © Getty

In the build-up to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019CricketCountry brings you the most memorable moments and matches from the tournament over the years – right from its first edition, way back in 1975. With 14 days to go, in our latest World Cup Countdown we recap the third fifth of the tournament.

Australia and New Zealand were co-hosts of the 1992 World Cup which saw four major innovations: coloured clothing, with names on the back; floodlights for most of the 36 matches; the white ball, which was used from both ends, much to the bowlers’ delight, leading to some sustained spells of high quality swing and seam bowling; and the fielding rule by where only two fielders were allowed outside the infield for the first 15 overs.

As a result of the last rule, teams took a leaf from baseball’s book and sent in pinch-hitters at the top of an innings to try and exploit the fielding restrictions. Some weren’t so successful, such as Ian Botham, but New Zealand’s Mark Greatbatch left an indelible mark on the tournament, thundering down the track to the likes of Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Allan Donald, and his success was the impetus for the likes of Sanath Jayasuriya and others four years later.

(READ: 1992 – The shortest ODI in World Cup history)

The 1992 World Cup included nine teams which squared off against each other in a league format that meant there were 39 matches in all – as against 27 in the previous edition – in 33 days. Many found this a trifle too long, but there are many more who feel this format was the best of all World Cups for the reason that it gave each team an equal chance.

The scoreboard at the SCG displays the absurdity of the rain rule.
The scoreboard at the SCG displays the absurdity of the rain rule. © Getty

However, the rule for interrupted matches was roundly criticised, and there was no bigger example of the farcical rules than the semi-final between England and South Africa, playing their first World Cup following the end of their 21-year Apartheid-induced isolation. South Africa making a good fist of their reply to a target of 253 when the rain came and at that time they needed 22 runs from 13 deliveries, which was a big ask, but not impossible.

When the rain stopped, due to the muddle rules, they needed an impossible 21 runs off one ball. Needless to say they lost.

(READ: When jumping Javed Miandad mocked Kiran More at the SCG)

The World Cup began with both tournament hosts New Zealand taking on Australia at Eden Park. New Zealand’s win set a trend for the rest of the preliminary stage, which saw the holders and favourites, Australia, struggle and New Zealand storm into the semi-finals by virtue of having topped the league by three points after winning seven of eight games. The foundation for that win over Australia was a splendid century from Martin Crowe, the Kiwi captain, who would finish the World Cup’s highest run-getter with 456.

Wasim Akram bowls Chris Lewis with a ripper in the 1992 World Cup final.
Wasim Akram bowls Chris Lewis with a ripper in the 1992 World Cup final. © Getty

It was in front of a record crowd of 87, 182 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground that Imran Khan crowned his glorious career by leading Pakistan to victory.

(READ: Pakistan end New Zealand’s winning streak in a must-win clash)

He will be remembered as one of the game’s great bowlers but he was a fine batsman too and it was in this discipline, as well as captaincy, that he principally excelled in the tournament. He promoted himself to fortify a brittle top order and hit 72 in the final against England and it was somehow fitting that Imran should lift the trophy and never play again. It was, simply, an epic end to an outstanding career.

However, this was hard to envision during the first half of the tournament. Pakistan, already missing an injured Waqar Younis, won only one of their first five league matches and managed to scrape into the semis after Imran, in his 40th year and nursing a troublesome right shoulder, famously told his team: “Listen, just be as if you were a cornered tiger.”

Pakistan’s principle acts were Javed Miandad (437 runs at 62.43), Rameez Raja (349 runs at 58.17), Wasim Akram (18 wickets at 18.78) and Mushtaq Ahmed (16 wickets at 19.44).