BIRMINGHAM: Twenty-seven years and a generation apart, Pakistan’s World Cup bears striking similarities with their 1992 campaign — when they started slowly but ended up lifting the trophy in Melbourne. An identical sequence of wins and losses, and other eerie parallels, have struck a chord with millions of fans who believe that Pakistan could be set to come out on top once again.
In both World Cups, Pakistan started with a one-sided defeat to the West Indies, before recovering to win their second game — against Zimbabwe in 1992, and England this time around. At both tournaments, their third game was rained off and they then went on to lose their next two games and win the following two. Not only that, but the final win in both sequences was against New Zealand, who were unbeaten in both 1992 and 2019 until they ran into Pakistan.
“It was same, the same sequence of results, points and then we wanted Australia to beat the West Indies for us to qualify,” said legendary fast bowler Wasim Akram, who played for Pakistan in 1992. “Then also we beat New Zealand — who was unbeaten then too. A lot of similarities, I hope the end result is also similar now and we win the World Cup,” said Wasim, now a TV commentator.
In another similarity, Wasim was the leading wicket-taker in 1992 with 18 and another Pakistan left-arm pacer, Mohammad Amir, is second on the bowler’s chart with 16 so far. “I am not sure if players are following all these (discussions) but this should motivate them,” said Wasim. But Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed played down any parallels with 1992.
“That’s history but after we won against New Zealand someone told me that even in 1992 we chased down New Zealand’s target with five balls to spare,” said Sarfaraz, whose team reached their 238-run target in 49.1 overs on Wednesday. Fans are now hoping that the similarities don’t end there, and even that they continue beyond the World Cup. “Imran Khan was Pakistan captain in 1992 World Cup and 26 years after that triumph he became country’s prime minister, so Sarfaraz should also join politics and become premier in 2045,” said one comment on social media.
‘Belief is key’
Babar Azam says Pakistan have the belief they can win their remaining games to complete a dramatic turnaround and reach the World Cup semi-finals following victory against a strong New Zealand side on Wednesday. The 24-year-old hit a match-winning unbeaten 101 to anchor Pakistan’s reply to New Zealand’s score of 237 for six at Edgbaston.
Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed hit the winning runs in the final over as they finished on 241-4 to win by six wickets. Pakistan had a disastrous start to their World Cup campaign, losing three of their first five matches with a single victory, against England, and a no-result.
Their next game is on Saturday against Afghanistan, who have lost all seven of their matches at the tournament in England and Wales and they finish their group fixtures against Bangladesh, who are level with Pakistan on seven points.
Sri Lanka are also in the hunt, one point behind but with a game in hand, meaning 1992 winners Pakistan must still rely on other results going in their favour to qualify from the 10-team group phase. “Belief has been the key,” said Babar, who reached his 10th one-day international hundred off 124 balls with 11 fours. “We have the belief that we will win our next two games and then look ahead.”
Babar, 24, said even when the team were struggling earlier in the tournament, they were confident they could turn their fortunes around. “We were not winning matches but we talked to each other and had the belief that we could do it and now our focus is on the next game,” he said. Defending champions Australia are the only team to have qualified for the semi-finals so far while New Zealand, India and England currently occupy the other top-four slots. Babar said his role had been to bat until the end of the innings. “I was given a role to bat until the end and others bat around me and that worked well as (Mohammad) Hafeez and then Haris (Sohail) batted well to establish partnerships,” said Babar. – AFP