Waugh aims at the stumps, Rhodes crashes into them, Akram knocks them over
Series/Tournaments: Benson & Hedges World Cup
Pakistan v South Africa, Brisbane
South Africa had been restricted to 211 but the rain rule helped them after Pakistan started confidently - an asking-rate of 4.9 in 28 overs suddenly became 8.5 in 14. Pakistan's hopes of getting to the revised target rested largely on Inzamam-ul-Haq - who was in awesome form and had clattered 48 from 44 balls - and Imran Khan, who had helped add 85 runs for the third wicket.
In the 31st over Inzamam missed a heave to leg off Brian McMillan, but took off for a leg-bye. Imran, the non-striker, took a couple of strides and then stopped. Jonty Rhodes, already established as an outstanding fielder, chose this instant to produce one of the defining moments of the tournament. Sprinting in from a fairly deep backward point, Rhodes swooped on the ball with his right hand and then, ball in hand, charged towards the wicket even as Inzamam, who'd already run a third of the length of the pitch, desperately tried to return. An underarm throw would have sufficed, but Rhodes attempted the spectacular: he threw himself, feet in the air and body parallel to the ground, and razed all three stumps to the ground. Inzamam was marginally short of the crease, and for a moment South Africa had Superman in their line-up.
"I was appealing for lbw," said McMillan, "but out of the corner of the eye I saw Jonty diving in. I'd never seen a bloke dive at the wickets ever before." Rhodes had a simple explanation: "There was a 50% chance that I'd hit the stumps if I threw, and a 100% chance of hitting the stumps with ball in hand. The fastest way I could cover the last metre and a half was head first. It was just the right thing to do at the time."
Pakistan needed 59 from less than six overs when Inzamam fell, and their plight became dire when Imran went in the next over. Rhodes had turned the game, but he wasn't done: Ijaz Ahmed fell to another piece of brilliance, as Rhodes held on to a steepler while almost falling backwards. The rest of Pakistan batting's fell away and South Africa stole victory by 20 runs.
Raju falls short
Australia v India, Brisbane
Rain stripped three overs from India's chase and they needed four to win and three to tie off the final ball. Another loss for Australia, who had already been defeated by New Zealand and thrashed by South Africa, would have been terminal in their backyard defence of the trophy. Mohammad Azharuddin's 93 cancelled out Dean Jones' 90, which pushed Australia to 237, and Sanjay Manjrekar's 42-ball 47 gave India hope. Thirteen runs were needed from the last over, but after Kiran More's two fours it was left to the last pair of Javagal Srinath and Venkatapathy Raju.
Tom Moody loped in and watched Srinath slog straight to Steve Waugh at deep midwicket. "In my eagerness to take the match-winning catch I over-ran the chance," Waugh wrote in his autobiography. "I had too much time to take the catch, which gave me jelly legs and unhinged my composure." Racing to pick up the ball, he saw Raju pump his fist as he collected the second and turned for the third - and the tie. "Fuming from my clumsiness and driven by the cockiness of Raju's gesture, I launched a bounce throw laced with anger to David Boon with all the force I had in me and ran the batsman out."
Waugh's throw might have had all the power of a missile, but it seemed to take forever to arrive as it trailed towards Boon in front of the Moreton Bay fig backdrop. Boon was covering for Ian Healy, who had torn a hamstring against South Africa, and his waddle to flick off the bails was a bizarre conclusion to a third sloppy Australian performance. But his run-out was the fourth in the innings, which also included a beautiful side-arm throw from Craig McDermott, and there was misguided belief that Waugh's quick recovery would lead to a reinvigorated Australia.
England v Pakistan, final, Melbourne
The 1992 World Cup final was a contest between the best team on paper (England) and the most improved side (Pakistan). After a circumspect start Pakistan mustered 249 for 6 largely due to a late flurry from Wasim Akram. It wasn't the last England saw of him either. Akram sent Ian Botham packing early with a brute of a delivery, albeit in controversial circumstances, and England slipped to 69 for 4. Allan Lamb and Neil Fairbrother, however, added 72 in 14 overs, and Pakistan's hopes diminished with every passing run. Something had to give.
The ball was 34 overs old when Imran Khan tossed it back to his trusted aide, Akram, virtually unplayable under lights, with pace to complement his vicious swing. Lamb, on 31, took strike to face his first ball from Akram. Bowling round the wicket, Akram pitched just short of a length and swung it in at searing pace. Lamb put his foot forward but was totally squared up as the ball straightened off the surface, leaving him no time to adjust. The ball crashed into off stump and a stunned Lamb walked off.
Chris Lewis was up next. Akram pitched fuller this time, curving the ball beautifully through the air. Lewis thrust his left leg forward, took a large stride across the stumps, and was in two minds whether to play or leave. He chose the former and brought his bat down from a high back-lift. He wasn't quick enough and the ball caught the inside edge and hit the top of middle stump. With two absolute peaches, Akram was on a hat-trick.
"Those two deliveries were unplayable. It was perfect reverse swing," Aaqib Javed, Akram's team-mate, said later. Wasim will remember that unique spell all his life."
Dermot Reeve played out the hat-trick ball but the damage had been done. With few wickets in hand, Fairbrother did his best, pushing the score to 180. However, his dismissal took the fight out of England's chase. Pakistan wrapped up the innings for 227 and won the World Cup for the first time. Akram was the Player of the Final.
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