Players from the champion sides relive their World Cup journeys

'It was a dream come true'

1992, part three; Akram talks about Imran Khan's leadership, his heroics in the final, the two deliveries that have become stuff of legend (00:00)

February 21, 2011


'It was a dream come true'

February 21, 2011

Part 3

Slide: The night before the final Imran delivered the famous "cornered tiger" speech to his team.

We had a big meeting the night before the final. Before the game in the morning, in those days there were no uniforms, the team didn't have to wear green or certain shirts by certain sponsors, and you could just wear whatever you wanted. So I went out and shopped, and I was wearing a "Just Do It" t-shirt. And Imran came with this white t-shirt with this big tiger on it, and then he said, "Look, you all are my cornered tigers, and we are going to enjoy our day, we are going to fight till the end, and we will play according to the plan." So that was his actual speech.

Slide: In the final, Pakistan chose to bat first and lost two early wickets but Imran and Javed Miandad put on 139 runs together. Pakistan were on 163 when Miandad was the third wicket to fall.

It was Imran's decision to come in at No. 3 in the World Cup final. That's what I call leading from the front. That's what I call fearless leadership. He came out, he blocked and blocked, Javed bhai also did the same - our old technique. In the end, we were 140 odd in 35 overs, whatever the plan was. We had lost only two wickets and then Imran and Javed bhai started.

Slide: In a surprise move, Akram was promoted to No. 6, ahead of Saleem Malik. Akram slammed 33 runs of just 18 balls.

Yes, there was a certain plan, if so many overs left, then I would be asked to come in. I didn't bat well in that World Cup, whenever I was sent in. But I was very pumped up, I felt very light in the morning before the game, before the toss. I felt very light, like I could just fly, that sort of feeling. And I had a feeling that I would do something, so I was very pumped up when I came out to bat. Before me, Inzaman played some exceptional shots, he got about 42 off 35 deliveries. I hit the first ball for boundary - Ian Botham was bowling and mid-off was up, so I aimed between mid-off and extra cover, and that worked. I middled it and then the confidence was there.

Slide: Pakistan scored 249. And following his heroics with the bat, Akram struck in the first over - with the wicket of Ian Botham.

I have hardly mentioned this to anyone, I don't remember. But when I came out to bowl, I had played a little innings, played only about 18 balls but I ran quite a bit. 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 really bad, 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 for here 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. Just get your rhythm." Then I bowled that ball to Botham which came back in and he still thinks, Ian Botham, that he didn't nick it.

Slide: Botham was unhappy with the decision but Pakistan were convinced that he had hit it.

Yes, didn't you see the appeal? Didn't he see the appeal? He said, "You appeal very well." And I said, "No, we all came up because we all heard the noise."

Slide: After the initial breakthrough, Mushtaq Ahmed and Aaqib Javed bowled beautifully.

Mushtaq was awesome, but Aaqib was superb. For the first seven overs spell, he was swinging quite a bit, and the ball was beautifully seaming away. And Alec Stewart got a massive nick, and he stood. But third ball he nicked straight to the slips.

Slide: One of the defining images of that final was Mushtaq getting Graeme Hick leg before with a googly.

Mushtaq was very brave. In nets we used to hammer him, and he used to say, "You guys kill my confidence, how can I bowl." But that didn't matter. He was a very bubbly character, and he still is.. He was very funny, always there, working hard and a great team man. He was a very talented bowler, and he got lots of wickets under pressure. I think the problem he had in the beginning was his fitness, he was never super-duper fit. That googly was planned, he bowled three-four legbreaks and then he said that he is going to bowl a googly. He bowled one and Graeme Hick had no idea, and after that I think he had Hick quite a few times.

Slide: Then there was the fielding: two of the best catches were taken by players most unlikely to look spectacular on the field.

I think those two catches were the best catches those two ever took or they will ever take. Because they weren't the best fielders and Aaqib messed it up in that World Cup twice, on the sweep shot, he went that way and the ball went the other way, it was quite funny, but on the final it was our day, and everything worked. Even Ramiz took a catch. I was shocked, the team was shocked, Gooch was amazed and Aaqib was the most shocked, "what the heck I have done. I took a blinder."

Slide: England were struggling at 69 for 4 when Neil Fairbrother and Allan Lamb put on 72, a stand that worried Pakistan.

We were very worried, because Allan Lamb was one of the best one-day players, and Neil Fairbrother was emerging as one of the best one-day players. In those days English players were very professional, they took the responsibility on themselves. I remember it was around 34th or the 35th over, we all were having a chat and I went up to Imran bhai and I said, "Skipper, I think I should come on for a couple of overs, and which end do you think the bowl would reverse." He looked at me, and said, "Good idea." I think it was me or someone else, and suggested to go from the other end. I bowled my first ball to Neil, and afterwards he told me, "The plan was to just block you, block you for two overs. And when Lamb was about to face you, the ball before I went up to him and told him that Wasim is going to come around the wicket, he is going to bowl this delivery to you, it's going pitch in and go away, just block him." Then he said he asked Lamb after the ball, and Lamb said that he could not see the ball. So everything worked for me that day.

Slide: Pakistan came back through two phenomenal balls by Akram - the first bowled Allan Lamb and the next cleaned up Chris Lewis.

I had a plan with Imran bhai at mid-on. This one will be out-swing, I will try this. He said go for it, and we got the wicket. We knew that we were back into the game, big time. And in the next ball the plan was to bowl the length in-swing, and not the yorker, because he will be expecting the yorker or the out-swing length ball. So I bowled length in-swing.

Slide: England's lower order showed some resistance after they had slipped to 141 for 6. But eventually they fell 22 runs short. Pakistan were the new world champions.

I think it sunk in that we won the World Cup only two or three days after. 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. We came back at four or five saying we need to sleep. But overall when we came to Pakistan, that's when we realised what we did. It was something incredible. The best thing was, I remember, still people from that era, when they talk about the World Cup, there is smile on their face. That when we came back and when we saw the smiles, the whole nation was smiling for years, and that was incredible.

Slide: Akram won the Man-of-the-Match award in the final. For him it was a dream come true and perhaps the best day of his cricket life.

Very satisfying, it was a dream come true. That was my dream to win the Man of the Match in the final. And God has given me everything, whatever I wanted in cricket. Definitely, if you talk about what is the best memory, it has to be winning the Man-of-the-Match award in the World Cup final.

Posted by   on (February 22, 2011, 8:13 GMT)

I am sure Imran was the best captain of them all. He was a fearless leader with confidence oozing out of his every gesture. He certailnly led his team from the front unlike the other captains who followed him. I wish we find another leader like him who can take Pakistan cricket to the top once again.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2011, 4:52 GMT)

it is great to listen the well planned cricket palyed by pakistan.its superb.pakistan zindabad.

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