1992 World Cup: Wasim Akram's magic swings the title in Pakistan's favour

While the cricketing world would remember Wasim Akram’s memorable effort with the ball in the 1992 World Cup final, one cannot overlook his unbeaten 19-ball 33 that lifted the Pakistan total to 249.

Wasim Akram dismisses England batsman Allan Lamb in the 1992 World Cup final. Akram got Chris Lewis off the very next delivery to cripple England and pave the path for the Pakistan triumph. He was the unanimous choice for the Man of the Match award.   -  Getty Images

After his versatile exhibition of left-arm seam with an unusual ‘arm action’ in his fledgling but successful years in international cricket, Pakistan’s Wasim Akram drew comparison with Australia’s greatest practitioner of left-arm seam from the 1950s to the early 1960s, the all-rounder Alan Davidson. Akram was a special bowler equipped with skills to defeat the batsmen both in the air and off the wicket. He did so with consummate ease.

With Waqar Younis, he formed a deadly combination in his later years, but it was his magical spell against England in the 1992 World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground that won him acclaim and enabled Pakistan to triumph under the leadership of Imran Khan.

Pakistan’s World Cup campaign did not promise much in its first five matches. It lost the first match to the West Indies at the MCG, to India in Sydney and to South Africa in Brisbane. In between it beat Zimbabwe and shared points with England in Adelaide, after being shot out for 74 in 40. 2 overs. When England began the run chase, Akram got the wicket of Graham Gooch, before the match was washed out because of rain when Australia was actually going through a sub-par monsoon.

While Pakistan’s position in the league dipped with every match, Akram held his own with excellent spells.

Things began to change for Pakistan after it won matches in Perth against Australia and Sri Lanka. And once the team travelled across the Tasman to New Zealand and stunned Martin Crowe’s squad, the men in green did not look back. On a fast pitch, Akram plotted New Zealand’s downfall by taking four for 32, a performance that prompted Imran Khan to believe that his team could win the World Cup.

Akram played his part in the semifinals against New Zealand in Auckland, and stepped up with a game-changing role in the final. Bowling his sixth and Pakistan’s 35th over, Akram, switching to around the wicket, nonplussed Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis off back-to-back deliveries. These two telling blows virtually ended England’s hopes of chasing 250. Akram finished the tournament with 18 wickets at 18.78 in 10 matches. He had removed opener Ian Botham in his opening burst. The experience of playing a little over 100 ODIs helped Akram who had taken two hat-tricks in Sharjah, in 1989 and 1990. Dermot Reeve denied him the feat in the World Cup final. Akram’s new-ball partner Aaqib Javed said of the dismissals of Lamb and Lewis: “Those two deliveries were unplayable. It was perfect reverse swing. Wasim will remember that unique spell all his life.”

While the cricketing world would remember his memorable effort with the ball, one cannot overlook his unbeaten 19-ball 33 that lifted the Pakistan total to 249. “This is the best moment of my life,” said Akram.

Thanks to the super show by Akram, Pakistan became the second Asian team to win the World Cup after India (1983) and Imran Khan retired after the final of a competition that was for the first time played under lights with the players in coloured clothing.