THE ICC World Cup went to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time since its inception but that was not the only change. This is where the entire description of multilateral International Cricket Council (ICC) tournaments underwent a sea change, with coloured clothing, floodlights, and white cricket balls coming in to stay. Named the Benson & Hedges World Cup, and hosted by Australia and New Zealand, this tournament saw Pakistan emerge from the shadows as the new champions, coming back from the brink of elimination, thanks to a rain rule that made as many headlines as the cricket itself. This chapter also saw the return of South Africa to international cricket after their Apartheid boycott.
The format was different too. Nine teams, including Zimbabwe who had just played their first Test match, were clubbed in one group and played one another once in the league.
India’s Agonising Outing
India had a World Cup to forget. They went down to England in their first match, failing to reach the moderate 236-run target, which came thanks to a 91 from Robin Smith and 51 runs from Graham Gooch.
India’s reply began well with a 63-run opening stand between Ravi Shastri (57) and Krishnamachari Srikkanth (39) but then the wheel came off. Sachin Tendulkar scored 25 and Subroto Banerjee scored a valiant 25 not out off 16 deliveries but the lower-order just did not have enough steam to get through as India lost by nine runs.
Worse was to come as India lost to Australia by just one run in a tantalising rain-affected match.
After their second game was rained out, costing India a likely win against Sri Lanka, the next game saw them face Australia at Brisbane and it went down to the wire.
After Australia were restricted to 237/9 after some fine seam-up bowling from Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar, India fell short of the revised target by one run when Javagal Srinath’s long aerial shot was dropped by Steve Waugh at the fence but he recovered to throw the ball into fins last man Venkatapathy Raju short of his crease. India ended at 234 off 47 overs.
India beat Pakistan, defending a low score, and then went past Zimbabwe to keep their hopes alive, but went down to the West Indies, New Zealand, and then South Africa and their race was run.
Pakistan’s Roller Coaster Ride
Pakistan, at one stage, were almost out of the tournament. They lost three of their first five matches and only a rained-out contest against England gave them their third point, which would be crucial in the final summation.
Pakistan were 74 all out against England, who were 24/1 when the match stopped and never restarted.
Worst, Pakistan lost to India, which is always a big game. India scored only 216, thanks to a 54 not out from Tendulkar and 46 runs from Ajay Jadeja, and a late-order flurry from Kapil Dev who got 35 runs off 26 deliveries. Leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed claimed three wickets.
But Pakistan collapsed in a heap to end at 173. Only opener Aamer Sohail (62) and Javed Miandad 40 were in the race as the medium-pacers Kapil Dev, Prabhakar, and Srinath claimed two wickets apiece, while Tendulkar got the important wicket of Sohail.
Pakistan’s next match was a loss to South Africa and they were staring at elimination at this stage. But then things turned.
They beat Australia convincingly, then beat Sri Lanka and New Zealand to end up with nine points from the league, that one point in the rained-out match with England getting them ahead of Australia’s tally of eight.
They never looked back. Inzamam-ul Haq played a leading role as Pakistan beat New Zealand in the semi-final to set up a final clash with England.
Skipper Imran Khan scored 72 and Javed Miandad 58 as they scored 249/6. Contributions also came from Inzamam (42) and Wasim Akram (33).
Then the fiery display of fast bowling from Akram set the Melbourne Cricket Ground ablaze. He dismissed Ian Botham for a duck and then returned to remove Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis of successive deliveries, in one of the finest bowling displays of any final and England had no answers. Neil Fairbrother scored 62 and Lamb 31 but even though their tail wagged to some extent, Mushtaq Ahmed and Aaqib Javed also claimed wickets and Pakistan emerged winners by 22 runs.