Pakistan's cricketers celebrate the victory

Rocky Road high: Imran and Co savour a scarcely imagined World Cup win after beating England in the final in Melbourne

© Getty Images
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Extract

The miracle of '92

Twenty-two years after Pakistan's headiest triumph, it's still hard to believe how that ramshackle bunch surged to glory

Osman Samiuddin |

By most standards he left it too late, but by Pakistan's, Imran Khan probably managed to time it just right. By the time his side arrived in Perth to take on Australia at the 1992 World Cup, they had won just one of their first five matches and were, in the words of one player, walking dead. Never one of life's great communicators, Imran had become ever more distant during the tournament; a chronic shoulder injury kept his physical involvement intermittent and his cancer hospital project was the primary motivation of his off-field life.

He was leading in battered body - as fierce in some training sessions as he always was - but in spirit and soul, he was absent. "I think there's a big communication problem in the team at the moment," Wasim Akram revealed at the time (as captured in Wasim and Waqar: Imran's Inheritors, authored by John Crace). "For instance, Imran was talking to me about how we still had a chance, and all the youngsters hung back, but after we had left they were asking me what he had said… it's as if the team is scared of Imran."

Nor was he a great orator, though he at least possessed the baritone for it. But now, in Perth, he gathered his men in the dressing room before the game, wearing a white t-shirt with a tiger ready to pounce imprinted on it. Something about the direness of the situation stirred him. "Maybe he thought that I cannot be humiliated this badly, that I cannot get this low in life, that God will not drop me so low," remembers Aaqib Javed, who in a tournament where Pakistan veered so wildly, was a stabilising centre of gravity in their bowling attack. "So after this, with so much crap around us, we can only win. There is nothing else left. I don't know where he got this feeling from, I really don't know, but he came into the dressing room. He came in wearing the t-shirt. Maybe he just thought, let's try one final time."

Lights, colour, action: the 1992 World Cup saluted the renegade spirit of Kerry Packer, the man who jazzed up ODI cricket

Lights, colour, action: the 1992 World Cup saluted the renegade spirit of Kerry Packer, the man who jazzed up ODI cricket © Getty Images

Likely he could not have summoned it at any other time, or as if on demand. This was a moment, a feeling that welled up inside him; not a talk that could be replicated, or repeated over and over, thus risking dilution. It had to come then, both when it was too late and just right.

Imran spoke at each player and told them to look inside themselves, to understand that they were the best players in the world. "You," he asked one, "is there a more talented player in the world than you?" Is there a better fielder than you, he asked another, a better batsman than you? Having roused each player, he ended twenty minutes later with the image on his t-shirt, the image that resonated most to him and how he saw himself; a tiger, a Pathan tiger, hunting, warring, surviving.

Now he invoked a twist, one that had seen him through his toughest professional years when a shin injury threatened to finish his career. Fight like cornered tigers he told them, because nothing is more dangerous than a cornered tiger.

Stripped away, the actual contents of what he said were not so unique or important. This was standard, staid motivational stuff. But it mattered most, Aaqib explains, who it was saying it. "The kind of stuff he said depends on that. The message is the same. If Imran Khan says this, if he comes on TV and says so and so will be the greatest allrounder in the world it is one thing but if another guy says that, say Sarfraz Nawaz, who will be moved by it?"

The nine teams and officials line up for photos on a ship in Sydney Harbour

The nine teams and officials line up for photos on a ship in Sydney Harbour © Getty Images

Imran told them that he knew, not just thought, but that he knew and believed that Pakistan will win the World Cup. "I know we will win it." What he did was transmit his self-belief onto the rest of the squad, a monumental feat which doesn't just happen. This transplantation was the accumulation of a career, of a life, of every single day of success, of unchallenged authority, of every time he returned to the captaincy automatically, of every time he refused to play when it was too hot, or against too weak a side. It was the cumulative effect of a decade of Imran as captain, hero and icon, distilled in one talk.

The impact was greatest on the younger players, like Aaqib and Mushtaq Ahmed, who had grown up idolising Imran and were now disciples to his Svengali. Others were less moved. Javed Miandad makes no mention of it in his autobiography. Another senior member of that squad said it was just the "usual geeing up talk shit, nothing specific. Can't even remember what was said in fact, because Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's qawwalis were blaring in the background all the time." A few can't recall where or at what point the meeting happened. One - Zahid Fazal - has said that there was no such meeting at all; Imran wore the tiger t-shirt regularly for one-day finals, Fazal said, and the only time he referred to it during the World Cup was to television anchors and once on the morning of the final.

The fact remains though that Pakistan's upturn began from precisely the morning of that Australia game. "All I know is that after those 15 minutes, when the match began, the way I went into that ground, I haven't had that feeling ever before and I never had it again after," Aaqib says. "I could feel that nobody could face me or stop me. I had three slips for much of the game because I just knew. I knew each and every ball was going to go exactly where I wanted it.

"Those 15 minutes… life changed."

The fifth World Cup was very much in the modern ethos of sporting events: bigger, better and shinier than its predecessors. It had more teams, matches, colours, viewers, regulations and action. The setting was appropriate too, at least for nearly two-thirds of it. Twenty-five of its 39 matches were played in Australia, including a semi-final and final. Australia was the spiritual heart because it was there, behind the renegade spirit of Kerry Packer, that modern ODI cricket was born.

Aaqib Javed:

Aaqib Javed: "I could feel that nobody could face me or stop me" © Getty Images

Coloured clothing, white balls and floodlights; Packer sexed up a fusty old game in the late '70s and though every Australian summer would be the same mesh of colour, sound, light and sport, the 1992 World Cup was the official coming out onto a global stage. Soon after, all international ODIs would be as much riots of colour as action, played in coloured kit, with white balls and increasingly under lights. In BSkyB and satellite television, the ideal accomplice arrived, beaming round the clock coverage to Australasia and a lucrative subcontinent just opening its eyes to the riches of economic liberalisation.

Everything about it felt new. The format bravely shunned customary bifurcation and instead called for nine teams to play each other at least once in a league format: fairer than that was difficult to imagine. South Africa were back, reinstated into the cricketing fold after a decision taken in Sharjah four months before the tournament began. Their inclusion mirrored the country's rehabilitation into the world (a referendum was held in South Africa during the tournament on whether President FW de Klerk should continue reforms towards a multi-racial government). Their performance held as much significance on the field as it did off it.

The situation was typical of the contrariness of Pakistan: arriving early for once to be better prepared but that eagerness turning into a curse

A sense of liberation prevailed, like the aftermath of a great cultural revolution where everybody hangs loose. Fast bowlers had two white balls, one at each end, to attack with. Batsmen had only two fielders to avoid outside the fielding circle in the first 15 overs when looking for boundaries. Fielders, restricted within circles, began hurling themselves free.

In a rare bit of common sense planning, Pakistan arrived at the tournament three weeks early to acclimatise to conditions. Over the last half a decade, Pakistan had become a formidable ODI side, particularly in certain conditions. They had won five tournaments in a row in three years in Sharjah. At home they had won five of their last seven bilateral ODI series since 1987. Towards the end of 1989, they had won, effectively, a mini-World Cup in India, the Nehru Cup, which featured every Test side other than New Zealand. In the five years leading to this World Cup, they were indisputably the second-best side in the world (55 wins in 97 ODIs), behind only Australia, and no side had played more ODIs. But arriving early made eminent sense because Pakistan always struggled in Australia; they had lost 15 of their last 23 ODIs in Australia and New Zealand.

They took with them initially a 16-man group, which would then be chiselled down to the required 14. In terms of experience, the mix in the squad was close to perfect. They had veterans in Imran and Javed Miandad, both of whom had played in every World Cup till then. There were players like Akram, Salim Malik, Ijaz Ahmed and Ramiz Raja, mid-level experience, who had played in the 1987 World Cup. And as ever, there was a clutch of new, wildly exciting talent: Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Moin Khan, Aamir Sohail, Aaqib and Mushtaq Ahmed. The bowling held the aces. On the livelier surfaces of Australia, Akram, Aaqib, Waqar and Mushtaq was as formidable an attack as there existed.

Waqar's loss was so incalculable it even left Imran a little deflated

Waqar's loss was so incalculable it even left Imran a little deflated © PA Photos

But from very early, the tournament unfolded like a great impending disaster, a series of small screw-ups all snowballing into one massive one. The situation was in one sense typical of the contrariness of Pakistan: arriving early for once to be better prepared but that eagerness turning into a curse. To begin, Pakistan had travelled to Australia initially without Miandad, their best batsman and arguably their greatest one-day batsman ever. Officially he had not been picked because of a back strain picked up in a pre-tournament training camp in Lahore. But this being Miandad, conspiracies were constantly stewing around him.

The decision not to pick him, he wrote in his autobiography, was the result of an ongoing dispute with Imran, which on the surface was a strategic one over his batting position in the order. Imran, Miandad said, wanted him to move away from number four where he had batted for the majority of his career. Miandad didn't want to. "I saw something else behind this pressure to switch me around in the batting order," he wrote. "I couldn't help feeling it was an attempt to somehow bring me down a notch, to try and diminish whatever stature I had managed to earn as the Pakistan No. 4… Years in the Pakistan side had taught me that I wasn't surrounded by well-wishers."

From very early, the tournament unfolded like a great impending disaster, a series of small screw-ups all snowballing into one massive one

Less paranoid reasons did exist, such as his form running into the tournament. Since the start of the decade, for instance, he was averaging under 34 (from 27 one-day games), a spell which had yielded just one hundred and three fifties. Neither were his Test numbers of any consolation: an average of 26.66 and just three fifties in 11 Tests. The exclusion was harsh and probably ill-planned, but at a stretch it could be justified, especially if there was an injury to consider.

But the exclusion was also short-lived. Miandad vented first at Intikhab Alam, the team manager, but is then said to have worked various political favours to find his way back in. He didn't need to work too hard because Pakistan, and specifically their batting, was abysmal in the warm-up games they played before the tournament.

The pre-tournament itinerary was packed: Pakistan played six warm-up matches, including two three-day games. In eight innings they crossed 200 just once. The call back home was made: we need Miandad. He arrived on Valentine's Day, just nine days before their tournament opener against the West Indies. Three days after arrival he was run out for 80 in a narrow warm-up loss to Sri Lanka.

Life begins at 39: rival captains Graham Gooch and Imran Khan ahead of the final

Life begins at 39: rival captains Graham Gooch and Imran Khan ahead of the final © Getty Images

By then, any relief his recall generated had been drowned by the mass panic and despair of Waqar's withdrawal from the tournament with two stress fractures of the back. He had picked up the injury during the training camp in Lahore, but had not been properly diagnosed and he flew to Australia anyway. There he didn't bowl a single ball and once the diagnosis came in just before the tournament began, he was shattered. "That was such a huge setback," remembers Aaqib. "The replacement after him wasn't good enough. The third seamer then became Wasim Haider and however good he was, he couldn't play the Waqar role. Waqar was a first-change wicket-taker, Wasim Haider wasn't.

To be fair to Haider, nobody was like Waqar. If there was a more spectacular, more thrilling young cricketer in the world at the time, he went unrecorded. Waqar's impact since his debut had been remarkable; not only was he the quickest bowler in the world with a long, hurtling run-up, he also generated late, crazy swing that was winning Pakistan games in late, crazy fashion. With him Pakistan could defend almost any target from almost any position.

In Karachi in November 1990 once, the West Indies were coasting to a routine win to mark their 200th ODI, 139 for one, chasing 212. Waqar came on, took three for six in seven balls, ended with five for the game and Pakistan won by six runs: this kind of win and Waqar performance was the template, in Sharjah and Pakistan mostly, but the world didn't seem big enough to hold this incredibly virile culmination of a pace bowling boom. He was taking more wickets and quicker than any Pakistani bowler had done previously. Surrey had signed him up in a big-money deal, those days when a county contract was the biggest deal. The loss was so incalculable it even left Imran a little deflated. "What will we do now?" he asked when Waqar was diagnosed, according to Aaqib.

Once Imran had said his bit before the Australia game, Pakistan's disparate galaxies and stars and planets began to pull together into one universe

Little, if anything else, was going right. Akram was in fitful form, struggling to contain the swing white balls provided. He was trying to regain the ability to move the ball away from the right-hander in the nets. He'd always been comfortable bringing the ball back in to one, but could occasionally misplace the one that went away. Here, at a World Cup, was not the best time to try and get it back and he suffered initially. He was already an accomplished enough bowler for it to not be a huge concern, but without Waqar, everything felt a little flimsier.

The other key component of their attack was bowling so poorly in the warm-ups that he was on the verge of being dropped from the squad altogether. From Abdul Qadir to Mushtaq Ahmed now, Imran's longstanding use of legspinners in ODIs had gone from refreshing and novel to standard policy; the naturally attacking nature of their craft chimed in well with his own stances. Take wickets, win games, don't worry about runs. Mushtaq had displaced Qadir now and was in Australia, but entirely out of sorts, unable to provide any sense of control. He took wickets in the warm-ups but by his own admission, was a mess. Iqbal Sikander, another leggie, had been called up as cover initially and on his first day of training, impressed Imran in particular, with his verve and energy in the field.

One night before selection of the 14, Akram came to Mushtaq and told him he had not made it. Senior members of the squad felt Sikander might be a safer bet. Safe wasn't the way Imran operated though. "Imran saved my skin at the last minute," Mushtaq remembered in his autobiography Twenty20 Vision. "He had a very late conversation with the team manager, Intikhab Alam, and I have heard he told Intikhab that he wanted me in the side because I was a good fielder." Mushtaq remained and in the event, they stuck with Sikander as well.

Initially excluded, Javed Miandad proved indispensable to Pakistan's campaign

Initially excluded, Javed Miandad proved indispensable to Pakistan's campaign © Getty Images

Imran himself was of dubious fitness, his shoulder injury particularly severe, and it would result in him missing two of the first three games. Salim Malik was hopelessly out of touch, unable to lay bat on ball (and unhappy because he was arbitrarily replaced as vice-captain by Miandad's arrival); Ijaz Ahmed had morphed unknowingly from spunky middle-order batsman to a first-change slow medium-pacer with a criminally ugly action (he ended up bowling more overs - 36 - than he scored runs - 14 - in the tournament). Inzamam-ul-Haq, a unique boy wonder mix of his own talent and Imran's prophecies, couldn't get used to the surfaces in Australia.

Including the two first-class games (one of which they nearly lost), Pakistan won just one of their six warm-up matches. That begat a tournament start in which they won just a solitary game in their first five (and that too against Zimbabwe, who then were yet to become the side they became in the late '90s). Imran appeared for the first time in that Zimbabwe match, but didn't bowl or bat. "It was the perfect day's cricket for me; no batting, no bowling and no catching," he said after the game. "It's the sort of day Aamer Malik [an all-rounder around that time who never quite made it] would have loved."

Perfect days were few and far between in that stretch and so low did they get, it was difficult to know which was the lowest. Was it the 74 all out to England in Adelaide, where rain rescued an improbable point for them? It could have been the loss to India in Sydney three days later, with all the baggage that the contest carries. Maybe it was the South Africa game, in which the ominous dark grey clouds over Brisbane seemed to reflect Pakistan's mood and prospects and in which they were at their most shambolic in the field.

In Christchurch, Akram wrote a note to a taxi driver, signed and dated. Pakistan, it read, will win the World Cup

No two successive XIs were the same. They didn't know their best batting order (Inzamam opened and played one down, Zahid Fazal opened as well). Miandad developed debilitating gastritis after the India loss and missed the South Africa game with prolonged vomiting. Malik was being pushed up and down the order. The bowling threatened but was schizoid, typified by Akram's six wickets and 20 wides in those five games. Akram was so despondent that he had watched 'Naked Gun 2 ½' and 'Backdraft' four times already.

So bad was it that in Imran's absence, players were refusing to take the captaincy. "He said to a couple of players, you take over, and they said, no, give it to someone else," Aaqib recalls. "Javed [Miandad] was vice-captain but he said, no, give it to someone else, leave me alone. Malik was also in the running but he just wasn't getting bat onto ball throughout that entire tournament. Ijaz was hardly batting, he was bowling. This was how low the team had gotten: Miandad unfit, Imran shoulder injury, Malik batting like a number 11, Ijaz as bowler, Mushy and Wasim both struggling, Inzi in really bad shape. There wasn't one guy who was doing anything."

Once Imran had said his bit before the Australia game - and for a nation conceived in blood, not unused to wars, it is hardly surprising such a leonine speech tugs so forcefully on the imagination - Pakistan's disparate galaxies and stars and planets began to pull together into one universe. Aamir Sohail was caught off a no-ball before he had scored and went on to top-score with 76, the only half-century in the match against Australia. Aaqib had been the most stable of Pakistan's bowlers, but in Perth he set up Pakistan in a wonderful opening spell, clearest proof that aggression had little to do with pace where fast bowling is concerned. Perth was a fast-bowling haven but it was kind to Mushtaq, the other player most transformed immediately. He sliced through the middle order, instigating an eventual collapse of eight for 56.

"Australia were always difficult opponents for us, always," says Aaqib. "But after we won that match, we thought, this isn't a problem. We had Sri Lanka next, who weren't so good then, and New Zealand, and if you take New Zealand's record against everyone and then place it against ours, it's awful. Against Pakistan they've never done anything. We used to look at them and think, no way, we can take these guys on for sure. After Imran's talk and the Australia win, the team's mood changed totally."

You need some luck as well: in the final, Imran was dropped by Gooch on 9 and he went on to make a match-winning 72

You need some luck as well: in the final, Imran was dropped by Gooch on 9 and he went on to make a match-winning 72 © Associated Press

The most vital coming together was in Akram's mind. "I was really struggling with extras," Akram remembers. "I was running in quick and the ball was swinging quite a bit. In those days, with two white balls from each end, it was difficult. So I was running in and bowling a lot of wide balls, and the game against Australia was very important. I was low on confidence. I was a bit wary, running a bit slow, and I wasn't trying to bowl quick because I couldn't control my wide balls. The next morning, I woke up and I was having breakfast with Ijaz and a couple of junior players, and I was reading the newspaper. And it had a huge headline. Imran had made a statement: 'I don't mind Wasim bowling no-balls as long as he bowls quick.'" Akram was now unchained.

Swiftly, inevitably, pieces began to fall into place. In their five last games, Pakistan made just one change to their XI (bringing Sikander in for the semi-final in place of Ijaz before switching back in the final). The batting order assumed shape and identity, pivoting crucially around Imran's promotion of himself to one down. The idea was to have the two most experienced batsmen right in the heart of the order, to staunch early losses and build, and then to allow freedom to Inzamam, Malik, Akram and Moin. "The confidence he had as a batsman, as a decision-maker, as a captain - he came in at number three and it was a big decision," recalls Akram. "You imagine now, if somebody, as a captain makes a decision to bat at number three and if he doesn't do well… what will happen? It was very brave of him to do that."

As it had done at the Nehru Cup in India in November 1989 and numerous times in Sharjah, momentum was gathering, like a whirlpool in which a Pakistan win was the central force which drew everything in. After Pakistan beat New Zealand in their last group game, a deflated Australia still had to beat the West Indies for Pakistan to go through to the last four (before the start of those two games, all three sides could've gone through). The side gathered together at their hotel in Christchurch to watch the game. Some did so nervously. Others like Aaqib believed there was no doubt. "We just didn't have any negative thoughts after our Australian win, so we didn't think too much of what would happen in this match. My feeling at least was that there is nothing that can stop us, nothing."

Inzamam arrived and with him, destiny. It was a literal and metaphorical arrival

Once qualification was assured Akram and others went out for a celebratory meal. On return, Akram wrote a note to the taxi driver, signed and dated. Pakistan, it read, will win the World Cup.

The hairiest moments came in the semi-final against the home side and overwhelming favourites New Zealand. The oval shape of Eden Park took some getting used to. "It was a very difficult ground to play in as far as the dimensions were concerned, because one side was only 40 metres and the other side was 80 metres, and the fine leg on that particular ground comes in front of the umpire, like square leg on a normal field," describes Akram. In a team meeting, Imran delegated to Ramiz the task of drawing an accurate map of the ground with the correct angles. He drew it as circle. "Even I could've drawn a circle," Imran jokingly admonished.

It almost cost them when Martin Crowe put together one of the innings of the tournament. And Pakistan looked out of it for much of the chase, until Inzamam arrived and with him, destiny: it was a literal and metaphorical arrival. The young Multani had pleaded with Imran to drop him from the side on the morning of the match, as much because of illness as his confidence being shot after a poor tournament. "Imran told him, are you mad, I am telling you to play, so just play," Aaqib recounts. "He said, no, no I am dead, I can't walk, I'm really ill. So Imran told me and Mushy, look he's your friend, make him understand he needs to play. We went and told him, are you mad, the captain is telling you to play and you're not, what's wrong with you?" He played and so was forged Inzamam's twilight surge, fulfilling Imran's prophecy that he was a batsman among the best. His form also paralleled his team's late successful swell: his 60 off 37 balls won the semi-final and his 42 in the final set it up.

Imran again roused his men on the morning of the final, one last time invoking the cornered tiger. He wore the t-shirt to the toss. At 39, he was older to his English counterpart Graham Gooch by just a few months but looked fresh, upbeat and honed enough to be his son. In truth it hardly mattered what Imran said to his men that morning because precisely how conspired the universe was in Pakistan's favour was on clear, unashamed display through that late March day and night in Melbourne.

Pakistan won their fourth, most important, toss of the tournament and chose to defend a target, which is traditionally how they've preferred to go. After losing two early wickets, they were lucky to not be four down; Steve Bucknor was in one of those cussed moods in turning down an early LBW appeal against Miandad. Imran was dropped by Gooch when he had made only nine. They were only 70 halfway through the innings. Miandad had to use a runner after his stomach began to play up again. And if the tournament was taken as a whole, Inzamam's runs were still a surprise, though the gold chain and gum-chewing swagger of Viv Richards was an ominous indicator of how confident and transformed he was after the semi-final. Even more surprising was Akram's little sprinkle of batting magic, to ensure that the very risky strategy Pakistan applied - waiting, waiting, waiting and waiting some more before accelerating - worked perfectly: Akram had made only 29 runs in 7 innings before this game but had been feeling "very light all day, like I could just fly, that sort of feeling".

Wasim Akram's banana swing broke a threatening stand in the final and from then on there was no looking back for Pakistan

Wasim Akram's banana swing broke a threatening stand in the final and from then on there was no looking back for Pakistan © PA Photos

Then, in the field, even more. In dismissing Ian Botham fate conspired twice over. He hadn't edged it at all. But in coming in from round the wicket, Akram was protecting what he thought might be an injury. "I had played a little innings, only 18 balls but I ran quite a bit," Akram says. "I was super-fit. I was just 23-24, it was the pressure. I came out and I bowled the first over from over the wicket, and I was getting cramps. My hamstring was cramping up, so I had a word with Imran. I said, 'I should try and come round the wicket, because the ball is not coming in, I am releasing it instead of just going all the way down. So from round the wicket I would have proper follow-through.' He said, 'Okay, just don't run in too quick. Get your rhythm.' Then I bowled that ball to Botham which came back in and he still thinks that he didn't nick it." Mushtaq's googly to dismiss Graeme Hick - about as emphatic an undoing of a batsman as you will see - spoke of talent but Aaqib's catch to dismiss Gooch? Here was more evidence of the day's decision to become Pakistan's. In a team of poor catchers, Aaqib was among the poorest, awkward and comically bad. Here he ran in from deep square leg, tumbling forward to his left to hold on with both hands, ball inches off the ground. He rolled over, stood up and in disbelief, ran a little lap of honour by himself. "It was a good catch," he remembers sheepishly. "I tried, it happened. That is when I thought, that's it. That is the turning point of that game."

The final flourish was provided by Akram. Imran was assessing various options at a drinks break to confront a pesky, mildly threatening partnership between Allan Lamb and Neil Fairbrother. Akram told Imran he should come back on for a couple of overs: Imran agreed. That produced the two cherries with which Akram and Pakistan topped this ice cream of a decade, both a blur of late swing, pace and, especially in Lamb's case, unplayable length: not full enough to drive, but full enough to tempt a little prod forward. Chris Lewis never stood a chance next ball, wider, shorter, but honing in sharply, and soon it was over.

Imran celebrated further wickets as he always did at one remove from his teammates, shyly smiling, missing high fives and offering uncomfortable half-hugs, but happy, like a proud, reserved father. In the background waved a mesh of Pakistani flags and ones of the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM), an ethnic Karachi-based party representing Muhajirs (those who moved to Pakistan at partition from India) and one, at the time, involved in a bloody civil war in Karachi.

"I think it sunk in that we won the World Cup only two or three days later," remembers Wasim. "First of all, we couldn't sleep that night. We didn't go out, we didn't party, we were just excited. I remember I had to share half a sleeping pill with Ijaz to go to bed because we couldn't sleep till three or four in the morning."

Miandad grabbed Imran by his right arm and yanked him around, the only man in Pakistan who could be so informal with him

As Pakistan walked off the field for the presentations, an end was beginning. Unbeknown, this was not a harbinger for a golden age. Where India's 1983 triumph opened the country's eyes to one-day cricket, where Australia's 1987 win began a renaissance, where Sri Lanka's triumph in 1996 became their graduation to the big league, Pakistan's win in 1992 heralded only the unravelling of their fragile unity and a cantankerous, ramshackle descent into chaos. It brought to a close a period where Pakistan were as good as they have ever been.

Miandad, who had been off the field as Pakistan bowled, worked his way through a throng, flag in one hand, and caught up with Imran. A whole life had been lived in the strange relationship between the two, their productive friction best captured in the politics of Miandad's near-exclusion from the World Cup and his response (five fifties including in the semis and the final, and second-highest scorer in the tournament).

Now Miandad grabbed Imran by his right arm and yanked him around, the only man in Pakistan who could be so informal with him. Imran was momentarily perplexed but seeing Miandad's open arms, broke into a broad smile and locked into as warm and full an embrace as he had ever done on a cricket field, the two men in whom this conspiracy was manifest most profoundly, celebrating a triumph built on the will of one and the wits of the other.

Osman Samiuddin is a sportswriter at the National. This is an extract from his book The Unquiet Ones: A History of Pakistan Cricket, due to be published by HarperCollins India in November 2014

 

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  • POSTED BY Cricinfouser on | November 27, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    I wished this piece would never end. What writing. Definitely buying the book.

  • POSTED BY Fuad Ahmed on | November 26, 2014, 22:07 GMT

    No mention of Aamir Sohail ?

  • POSTED BY Sudarshan Sudhir on | November 26, 2014, 13:31 GMT

    Great article. I very well remember watching the final live on TV as an Indian. As much as I hated Pakistan winning the world cup that time though I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. No body could have stopped Imran and his boys that day. People may say that Pakistan was lucky to have got a point against England after being bowled out for 74, I would like to mention that they were unkucky to lose 2 points against south Africa because of rain. Pakistan were comfortably placed in their chase against SA when rain intervened and the equation became very difficult as the rain rules then always favoured the side batting first. So its all fair and square. When Akram bowled those 2 unbelievable deliveries in the final the match was over then and there.

  • POSTED BY Sidhant Hasija on | November 26, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    Amazing account of the 1992 world cup and admiration for the legendary players that constituted Pakistani team. Wish the modern day cricket gets more such characters and talent and fiery talent.

  • POSTED BY Cricinfouser on | November 25, 2014, 22:53 GMT

    Nice article, people argued what Imran contributed in Pakistan victory , if you check our team in 1996 and 1999 world cup,our team is much stronger on paper ,what is the reason for inconsistent performance ,the only reason which i can see leadership, waseem akram is very good player, but he tried his best to copy Imran khan ,but there was only one Imran khan ,there is only one Imran khan and there will be only one Imran khan.We should proud of him.

  • POSTED BY Najeeb Ali Khan on | November 25, 2014, 18:19 GMT

    Osman Samiuddin, you are one hell of a scribe! I was 25 at the time, and you brought back all those precious memories like I am in a time machine and teleported to that fateful day in March 1992. This piece is just awesome and it shows the absolute spiritual connection we Pakistanis have with cricket and you have this bug too that makes you create and recreate the magic with your writing! No tearjerker movie could ever make me cry, but this article did, profusely! Such is the force of your writing! What more can I say, you just keep on writing and I'll keep on reading! Thank you for making me relive that wonderful time!!!!!!

  • POSTED BY Sabbir Mahmood on | November 25, 2014, 16:02 GMT

    Saeed Anwar got injured and could not play what the writer forgot to mention.

  • POSTED BY Bilal Khan on | November 25, 2014, 11:56 GMT

    Just when you think that you've read enough about the 92 World Cup, that there is nothing more to be said, read or understood, Osman comes up with this beauty of an article., making me realise that the no matter how much you talk about the spring of 92, it will never get old, that there will always be more and more tales to tell, and that the instances of heroism, valor, courage, resilience, self belief and faith can always be told and retold without loosing their essence or spirit.

  • POSTED BY MURAD ALI on | November 25, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    I can still remember that morning in Ramadan, when we were watching Pakistan vs NZ semifinal after done with our Sehri. Pakistan was batting second and they had lost early wickets. Pakistan was nowhere in the match and i thought we are going to lose it. I slept at the same place with broken heart just in front of my television set when my elder brother wake me up to witness Inzamam's one of heroic innings. It was great feelings in the end when Moin end Pakistan's innings with couple of sixes to Harris.

  • POSTED BY Unmesh on | November 24, 2014, 18:09 GMT

    What an article! I am Indian fan who was just a little kid at the time of 1992 World Cup. This was the first World Cup I had followed closely. I still think 1992 World Cup was the best and the most thrilling World Cup of all. It was also a very well-organized World Cup. I vaguely remember Pakistan getting a point in the league stage due to a draw (game washed out in the second inning). They had batted first and were bundled out for a low score (below 100?). But the game was washed out and Pakistan got a point, which helped them qualify for the semi-finals. Nobody expected Pakistan to win that world cup, especially the way they started. But Imran and his men had other ideas!

  • POSTED BY Sajid Iqbal on | November 24, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    wow.... for a second i felt that i am back into 92 world cup live telecast.

  • POSTED BY Suhail on | November 24, 2014, 8:43 GMT

    wow.. just wow.. gave me goosebumps literally.. i hate it that i didnt get to see that world cup.. was too young or i didnt get the coverage in saudia back then :(

  • POSTED BY Cricinfouser on | November 24, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    What a stepwise picture of the 1992 memories. I was only 9 and, therefore not remember it at all. But Osman made me to feel that I am watching the world cup live in the stadium at an age of 31…Wow! Truly stunning…Great work Osman!

  • POSTED BY ish on | November 23, 2014, 18:09 GMT

    I remember sitting my A'levels then, there were 3 Pakistanis in the whole college. I remember Two of us in the same class hurdled round our radio listening to story of 92 unfold and the tutor not understanding what the big deal was. When Pakistan won we literally jumped out of our seats with the whole class room turn round thinking what the hells going on....the tutor caught on and told us we could go outside. As we did we were joined by the only other pakistani in the college and the three of us huddled round embracing one another jumping around in excitement. This article bought back all those wonderful memories of 1992.

  • POSTED BY Haseeb Jamal on | November 22, 2014, 18:11 GMT

    The leader that he is... Imran Khan

  • POSTED BY Mujahid Iqbal Rana on | November 22, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    we love imran khan and his struggled for pakistan 1992 is wonderfull memories...

  • POSTED BY Syed Bilal Fazli on | November 22, 2014, 12:01 GMT

    Whoa! this was good.. osama at his very best!

  • POSTED BY Hamayun on | November 22, 2014, 7:33 GMT

    Woww.....what an article, brings back memories from stale past. IK made this possible among all!!!

  • POSTED BY Abdul Moiz on | November 21, 2014, 18:57 GMT

    Almost gave me goose bumps!

  • POSTED BY Maira on | November 21, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    wow!! brought back lovely memories...the first cricket tournament i followed in my life...and the scenes are still sooo vivid! was too young to understand the game, or what was happening...but could feel the excitement and thrill, especially in the last two games! :) amazing article! thanks! :)

  • POSTED BY Majid on | November 21, 2014, 16:33 GMT

    Wonderful...no one can describe cricket of Pakistan better than Osman.

  • POSTED BY Anshu on | November 21, 2014, 8:27 GMT

    Superb read Osman... you brought everything alive very vividly!

  • POSTED BY Bobby on | November 21, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    Wonderful...Once I started....I knew that I have to finish. As far as world cups are concerned, 1992 World cup was the best. It had everything! The format itself was also excellent. I feel the World Cup has lost its sheen and is not what it used to be. Last World Cup in India was a farce really. I am looking forward to 2015 and once again World Cup back in our land!

  • POSTED BY Shahid on | November 21, 2014, 5:12 GMT

    this article along with the article Osman wrote when Pakistan met SA in 2009 world T20 are the best pieces Osman, in my opinion would have written. Kudos! I think the article for Pakistan vs SA had the subject line of something like "Art of Cricket vs the science of it" and i still haven't forgotten that article. I hope Pakistan wins 2015 and i hope Osman writes another great article describing the victory.

  • POSTED BY Riaz Khan on | November 21, 2014, 1:35 GMT

    It proves that no matter how talented players are, you need to play as a team and trust your team mates in order to win!! Imran, a great player and good motivator.

  • POSTED BY umair on | November 20, 2014, 23:51 GMT

    Javed Miandad is indeed the great batsman of Pakistan and it is because of Javed that Pakistan managed to win this world cup, he was so consistent throughout the tournament and he never receives his due credit.

  • POSTED BY Cyrus on | November 20, 2014, 17:37 GMT

    Osman. And the 1992 Worldcup. You little beauties.

  • POSTED BY Theena Kumaragurunathan on | November 20, 2014, 17:15 GMT

    Beautiful story beautifully told. Never stop, Osman.

  • POSTED BY Ehtisham Safdar on | November 20, 2014, 15:56 GMT

    Loved the way the article has been written. It just felt like I was there with the players in the dressing room for Perth Meeting. The pictures in the article made a great impression too. Thanks for writing such a great piece.

  • POSTED BY Muhammad Usman on | November 20, 2014, 15:55 GMT

    Just superb piece Osman..........thanks for this walk of 92 worldcup....enjoyed every step of it!

  • POSTED BY waqas on | November 20, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    Just relived the entire tournament...amazing piece of writing!

  • POSTED BY Venkatesan on | November 20, 2014, 6:09 GMT

    Great article mate....very touching....pakistan is a great cricket team...as an Indian I just wish that the country emerges stronger from all the chaos...big fan of Waqar and Wasim.....cracking cricketers....

  • POSTED BY Kowthamraj Vs on | November 20, 2014, 6:06 GMT

    a really nice and warm read .

  • POSTED BY Aqif on | November 20, 2014, 4:35 GMT

    Excellent writing. I remembered that on the day of winning the world cup, the 9pm Pakistan TV Khabarnama (News) started with the newscaster saying that Pakistan has won the world cup followed by the world cup theme song "Who rule the world" for continuously five minutes or so. It was once a lifetime experience of witnessing such a different 9pm news start which normally always had a boring start such as what country's President Minister or President have said in such and such meeting.

  • POSTED BY Anup on | November 19, 2014, 10:53 GMT

    A splendid write up Osman. You have a real gift of capturing history with a keen eye for the drama. Wonderful.

  • POSTED BY Bilal A. Choudry on | November 19, 2014, 6:23 GMT

    that Miandad Imran hug is the best memory of Pakistan cricket .... I remember reading the headline .. Kuiper bowls pakistan out of worldcup after SA loss ... and then doing the equations with my dad figuring out if it was still possible ..... also the batting order shuffle was very similar to how Younis Khan got it right to win the 2009 T20

  • POSTED BY mahfuzur rahman on | November 19, 2014, 6:06 GMT

    splendid writing ,,,made me nostalgic...it was a charming spring in dhaka and 1992 wc and pakistans fairy tale victory ....we used to play cricket those days and enjoyed watching the 1st colour WC with friends very much...pakistan's mode of triumph is an everlasting inspiration for us to strive for our targets untill the last moment....:)

  • POSTED BY Junaid Noor on | November 19, 2014, 5:59 GMT

    Thanks. I have a talk to present on leadership for one of my MBA subject and I think I have found my subject material.

  • POSTED BY Mansoor on | November 19, 2014, 4:26 GMT

    Every word brings a flashback of what happend on that day in 1992. Very gently written Good work osman. Regard, M

  • POSTED BY GHAZANFAR SHAHID on | November 19, 2014, 2:45 GMT

    Osman! what a remarkable writing, a flash back of history. Totally amusing. I was captured by your words and started visualizing everything as it was happening in front of me once again. I was a kid only 13 years old when Pakistan won the world cup. I have some blurry memories of the whole event but I have read few times about that whole tournament. I was that time playing my street cricket in Karachi and living time of my life with my friends. Trying to imitate each and every delivery of Wasim Akram and Aaqib Javed with a taped tennis ball. You brought me back in the past and gave me goosebumps. This is by far the best summary of Pakistan's 1992 world cup victory, a journey to remember. God bless you and keep writing. I hope our captain Imran Khan who snatched victory and threw it in our lap will it once again. But this time he is not competing with others he is competing with his own. God bless him with another historical victory for Pakistan.

  • POSTED BY A on | November 18, 2014, 20:59 GMT

    What a lovely article every word made me smile ........Pakistan Zindabad

  • POSTED BY Hassan on | November 18, 2014, 20:23 GMT

    Hey Sami! You are great, I wish we will lift Trophy sgain.. Inshallah

  • POSTED BY Imran Ch on | November 18, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    Wow! Osman! absolutely fantastic. God bless you, keep writing beautiful lines for Pakistan Cricket.

  • POSTED BY Naveed on | November 18, 2014, 10:28 GMT

    What an absolute peach of an article...Osman.. that was magnificent. I could never forget those images but you have literally brought them to life. I wish though someone could tell us what the younger players thought about Imran....reverence? Fear? Respect? I think it was everything put together and now the whole nation is coming together....Allah has indeed big plans for this man!

  • POSTED BY Harshal on | November 18, 2014, 10:12 GMT

    This is a great piece of writing Osman. Thoroughly enjoyed it. :)

  • POSTED BY Jibran on | November 18, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    One of the best articles I have ever read. Really felt I was reliving the 1992 World Cup. Its amazing how much one can accomplish when you believe in yourself even when you are down and almost out.

  • POSTED BY Farhan on | November 18, 2014, 6:57 GMT

    simply one of the greatest article i have read in recent times, thank you, SIR and KHAN is always great.....

  • POSTED BY Aamir on | November 18, 2014, 5:52 GMT

    Every time I hear or read the story as beautifully written as you did, I feel like goose bumps all over. Seems like that I am part of that history in the making. Paulo Coehlo's "AlChemist" quite similar to this story for a reference, how the universe conspires when you are as determined.

  • POSTED BY oamen on | November 18, 2014, 5:00 GMT

    Osman, thank you for an outstanding expression of Pakistan's voyage to the moment of glory that I have relived many a times over the last 22 years. Sincere gratitude for your article. You captured the embrace between Javed and Imran in its truest essence. I wish you the best of health and many years of prolific writing on Pakistan cricket. Asgar

  • POSTED BY Saket Waghmode on | November 17, 2014, 22:12 GMT

    Great piece Osman...I am an Indian, but I wanted Pakistan to win...they were invigorated, inspired and fearless, and they fully deserved what destiny gave them in the final, just like India against the West Indies in 1983....Once again, great and well-deserved win by Pakistan....

  • POSTED BY Johnny on | November 17, 2014, 14:11 GMT

    Wow, what a beautiful write-up............................, we were wild,... young.....beautiful.... and on top of the world......

  • POSTED BY Cricinfouser on | November 17, 2014, 11:51 GMT

    You just ran a chill through my spine, Osman. The last lines gave me Goosebumps and brought mist in my eyes. How can we forget that rise to marvel in 1992. I remember very vividly, as a research fellow at the university of Heidelberg, Germany, how anxiously I called a friend from a public booth (no cell phones in 1992) to find out what's happening in Melbourne. No channels in Germany showing cricket then. Dish antenna not very common every where. And how wildly I had pumped my fist in the air with a soundless slogan PAKISTAN..yeeee, we are the world champions........Thanks for taking us to a nostalgia we will always love to be in.

  • POSTED BY Umair on | November 17, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    I was busy working when for just a quick refreshing break, looked at Pak/NZ score and found it uninteresting so went through the whole page for something to keep me away from those emails. I got hold of this piece and just forgot everything for more than half an hour (I just could not stop), some of the incidents were revelations for me and the articulation gave me goosebumps throughout the read. Excellently written Osman, will wait for the book :-)

  • POSTED BY Muhammad on | November 13, 2014, 10:49 GMT

    Great article, excellently narrating the true spirit and drama of the then Pakistan team and their world cup win. I still remember the day when Pakistan won the world cup, I was in office and it was raining. I wanted to go home and watch the match but I was serving one of our customer who came from long distance and was in need of critical part. We, both, were listening running commentary from radio. The moment, Wasim Akram took two successive wickets, we knew Pakistan has won the world cup.

  • POSTED BY Aravinthan on | November 9, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    There are some writings which will make us Realise why words always enthrall us and put us in a trance,this is one such piece!! have already 6 times and I am still getting the same feeling when I read it first. A must read for the current crop of Pakistani players who are going to the antipodean lands this Jan. Writings like these makes cricket monthly a priceless gem

  • POSTED BY Cricinfouser on | November 8, 2014, 12:49 GMT

    Absolutely fantastic piece by a very skillful writer.

  • POSTED BY Sajid Mirza on | November 8, 2014, 8:57 GMT

    Just read the article and my wife asked me why your eyes full of tears? What should i tell her? No body understand the feelings of Pakistaniz when we talk about cricket. I was 12 when we won the world cup, 22 years passed and i feel i am still 12 years old watching the world cup live and love to see 2 greats Imran & Miandad warmly hug each other. Congratulation Sir, just awesome and craziest article. You make my weekend.

  • POSTED BY E ZeeShan on | November 7, 2014, 11:18 GMT

    I still have those moments & feelings very fresh in my eyes & mind. Love that WC & theme song (which is still in my ears)..... "Who Rule the World"..... For sure, Imran Khan is a Gr8 Leader …. Anyhow very well written, yet bit glitch at times when narrating the match especially semi final/final ..... Since I watched all those matches on TV being Crazy Yng boy, I feel you missed lot of important clips/news/acts.

  • POSTED BY yacoob on | November 6, 2014, 21:10 GMT

    well - a narrative which can best fit as the birth of Pakistan as a nation, its backward looking psyche summarised by Allama Iqbal in obe of his poetry - idhar doobay uddhar niklay

  • POSTED BY tariq on | November 5, 2014, 3:50 GMT

    Brilliant read. Fails to mention Aamir Sohails prolific tournament leading up to the semi final including top scoring against Aus Ind and Zim.

  • POSTED BY Faisal on | November 4, 2014, 16:19 GMT

    Wow ! It made me feel as if i am watching the world cup live ! I

  • POSTED BY Faiz on | November 4, 2014, 16:19 GMT

    What an article!! It carried me to the past as if I were in Australia.

  • POSTED BY Faraz on | November 4, 2014, 12:15 GMT

    Sublime piece of writing.

  • POSTED BY Amey on | November 4, 2014, 11:13 GMT

    What an article!!!!! Particularly liked the ending of the article.... Will of Imran and Wit of Javed....... You made my day

  • POSTED BY Roahil on | November 4, 2014, 5:05 GMT

    Stupendous and fabulous piece of writing...bring tear of joy in my eyes.2015 Wc IA belongs to Team Pakistan.

  • POSTED BY Shantanu on | November 3, 2014, 12:50 GMT

    I have always loved the mercurial streak of Pakistan on cricket field, and this article just reinstates my admiration for them. Well played, and extremely well written too...

  • POSTED BY randhawa on | November 3, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    An absolute majestic piece of writing. It is something that makes your whole day, remembering those past times in such a way that movies can be made on it ( and I'm surprised there isn't even a single one). Although i wasn't even born at that time, it has always been a fairy tale for me and have relished them thanks to youtube. I feel Pakistani team should watch and read such stuff when they go to Australia this time to get that feeling of Aaqib "No one could face me, stop me".

  • POSTED BY vamshi on | November 2, 2014, 17:37 GMT

    beautiful, evocative prose... i love both osman and kamran abbasi's poetic prose... what an article..read this thrice.. this was the greatest triumph in the game of cricket!!!

  • POSTED BY ZEESHAN on | November 2, 2014, 9:44 GMT

    Brilliant! Javed and Imran in a hug is one the best memories of Pakistan cricket.

  • POSTED BY Asad Kaleem on | November 2, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    Beautifully written! Loved it.

  • POSTED BY Cricinfouser on | November 2, 2014, 5:56 GMT

    This was amazing. This account made me shiver, smile and even forced a tear out of my eyes. This was not a cricket world cup win. It is manifestation of Pakistan as a nation. They are always broken but they always unite to come back stronger!

  • POSTED BY Zain Raza on | November 2, 2014, 2:14 GMT

    One could easily make an Oscar-winning movie out of Pakistani team. This is too much...

  • POSTED BY Sanwal Tariq on | November 1, 2014, 20:41 GMT

    Beautiful. Loved it. It demands a movie.

  • POSTED BY Imtiaz on | November 1, 2014, 20:04 GMT

    I have no words to write n comments truly loving article being tears n my eyes. Love you Osman

  • POSTED BY ali on | November 1, 2014, 18:22 GMT

    Awesome, feels like i just saw the 1992 world cup )))

  • POSTED BY ATUL on | November 1, 2014, 16:56 GMT

    Fantastic as always from Osman.. I remember this pic and the world cup vividly, it was the first one I had seen, all of 8.5yrs old :)

  • POSTED BY Rana Ali Nawaz on | November 1, 2014, 16:40 GMT

    Fortune favours the btave...and braveness is one of the prominents traits of imran Khan!!!! :)

  • POSTED BY Arif on | November 1, 2014, 16:32 GMT

    Great piece. Missed the impact Saeed Anwar had on 89 tour to Australia and his loss before the World Cup.

  • POSTED BY KRISHNA on | November 1, 2014, 16:15 GMT

    i thought that Peter Oborne's book Wounded Tiger would be the ultimate chronicle !! this is something to look forward to

  • POSTED BY Kalyan on | November 1, 2014, 15:40 GMT

    Loved it. Fantastic read. Could have stressed a bit more on Moin's contribution, especially in the Semi final against NZ with the bat.

  • POSTED BY Cricinfouser on | November 1, 2014, 10:41 GMT

    I want Moar extracts please!

  • POSTED BY Rehan Chohan on | November 1, 2014, 5:29 GMT

    beautiful read which describes the abilities of a committed Khan