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'We played Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan all the time'
1992, part two: Akram recollects Pakistan's journey from almost being knocked out of the tournament to making it to the final (00:00)
February 21, 2011
Related Links » Video & Audio: 'It was a dream come true' | 'Imran kept saying that we can win the World Cup' Players/Officials: Imran Khan | Inzamam-ul-Haq | Javed Miandad | Wasim Akram Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup | Benson & Hedges World Cup Teams: Pakistan Other links: World Cup Timeline: 1992
'We played Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan all the time'February 21, 2011
Slide: In their final league game, against New Zealand, Akram took four wickets and Ramiz Raja hit a hundred. But they still had to hope that Australia beat West Indies so Pakistan make it to the semis.
We were always confident, and New Zealand they played seven games before that game, and they won all of them and they hammered everyone. We were confident because we were playing on flat wickets, and our strength was our bowling. So we knew that if get them out quickly, or if they get some runs then we can get those. And that's what happened in that game: Ramiz played beautifully, he played one of the best innings I have seen by him. He got a hundred. It was a dead track, and I think we won by seven or eight wickets, if I remember correctly.
The confidence was back, and we all watched that Australian game together. I think we were in Wellington or Christchurch. We all sat in our hotel rooms and watched the game and prayed to God, and I think with us the whole Pakistan, or the Pakistanis worldwide, must have watched the game. Yes, we were all together, the juniors in one room and the seniors in one room, but we were just shuffling and going through phases. We wanted Australia to win, I think, and if Australia were doing bad, we were moving around and if Australia were doing good, then we were sitting in the same place for hours. So everything was going around [laughs].
Slide: Australia beat West Indies by 57 runs, and now Pakistan were in the semi-finals. They spent the couple of days enjoying the moment.
Before the semis, I remember clearly I was very relaxed. We went out to good restaurants to eat, all the juniors and myself, Ijaz, Aqib, Mushtaq. We had early nights, we had long running sessions, bowling sessions, and we used to be at the ground for the whole day. We were enjoying it. We were loving practising and feeling that we were in the semi-finals. And we were very confident we can beat New Zealand in the semis.
Slide: Now it was down to the semi-final. New Zealand chose to bat first and Martin Crowe played an amazing innings.
Martin Crowe was such a great player, and Eden Park 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 there on that particular ground comes in front of the umpire, like square leg on a normal field. So we had a meeting before the game - Imran told Ramiz to draw a map to see exactly how the dimensions are. Ramiz came up with a round map so there was a big laugh. Imran had a go at him saying that even he could do that. We were very confident, and the feeling was very good.
Slide: New Zealand scored 262, a formidable score but Pakistan were confident of chasing it down.
Crowe played some great shots, he was technically correct player, and it was beautiful to watch him. He was the captain, and he played a very good innings under pressure. And I think what went right for us in that game was that he got injured while batting, and John Wright took over the captaincy and that's why they got under pressure a bit. But it was a superb innings by him.
We were very confident as a team, we knew we just need to have wickets in hand, and if had wickets in hand then we could chase 260-270 even in those days. There was Inzamam, and there was Miandad, who was there till the last ball, and that was his greatness. Every one-day game he wanted to hit the winning runs. He used to say, "If you can get it to 20, if you can get to 30, then why can't you just play the last winning shot and come back?" That was his mentality, and he did that a lot of times.
Slide: The night before the semi-final, Inzamam-ul-Haq had taken ill and was very unlikely to play.
The night before the semi-final Inzamam had high fever and was throwing up all night. He went to Imran, and said, "Skipper, I have got fever and I don't think I can play." And Imran said, "Inzi, I can only tell you one thing, don't think about anything else, just think how you are going to play this game." And he played. Inzi played, and kudos to him, he played a superb knock, and that particular innings gave him the confidence to eventually become a great player.
Slide: Inzamam's innings - 60 off just 37 balls - won Pakistan the match.
Generally, Inzamam was a very talented cricketer. He was a bit lazy at times, but not in his batting. He was always very professional about his batting, always in the nets. He might not go for a fielding session, but for batting he would be there for two hours in the nets. So he was very talented, and he worked very hard. He was definitely a thinker of the game as far as batting was concerned.
Slide: Another highlight of the chase was Moin Khan's 11-ball 20. Pakistan beat New Zealand by four wickets.
And Moin Khan played the cameo again. Everybody liked Moin. Apart from as a cricketer, he was also liked as a person. He was very well-liked in the Pakistan team, and he was always straightforward and still is, and that reflected in his game. So he was a free soul as a person, so whenever he came in he was never under pressure. He always tried his best and that particular six, he hit off Harris had everyone looking at midwicket, but it went straight. That was a great feeling.
Slide: Pakistan were in their first World Cup final. The team was happy but grounded, knowing that England would be a tough opponent.
I don't remember those three-four days in-between the semi-final win and the final. We were just too high and too happy. We knew that England was a very strong side, and remember England was the most experienced one-day side at that time. They used to play a lot more one-day cricket in their county circuit than any other domestic circuit in the world. So yes, they had players like Gooch, Hick, who was coming up, Alec Stewart, Neil Fairbrother, one of the best one-day players, and the dangerous one-day player was Allan Lamb, Chris Lewis, Philip DeFreitas, Derek Pringle, Dermot Reeve and Ian Botham. So they had a lot of experienced players, and it was a very balanced side.
Slide: One of the things that Akram clearly remembers about the World Cup campaign is that the team played songs of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan throughout the tournament.
We played the songs of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan before every game, during lunch, after every game, in the bus. In those days they had these new compact CD players, and on our way to Australia, in Singapore or Thailand, Ijaz picked up one. And so we played Nusrat Fateh Ali everyday, every night, and even during practice sessions, a lot of time on full blast.
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