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How a young, lithe Inzamam shattered New Zealand’s World Cup dream in 1992

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Inspired by Martin Crowe, New Zealand were an unstoppable force at the 1992 World Cup until a lithe Inzamam-ul-Haq turned up with a splendid counter-attack in the semi-final in Auckland.

Pakistan were rudderless midway through the 1992 World Cup. Faltering through the group stages with an injured captain on the sidelines, and a squad of bickering, out of form cricketers losing on the park, it was only when Imran Khan returned that the team rediscovered its self-belief. With a late surge of form, the mercurial ‘cornered tigers’ scraped through the group stages and into the semi-finals.

New Zealand, on their home turf at Eden Park, lay in wait. The Kiwis batted first and in difficult conditions racked up 262, and when Pakistan’s 22-year-old number six loped to the wicket at 140-4 with just 15 overs left, it didn’t look good.

The lithe (oh yes) and hunched figure of Inzamam-ul-Haq, plucked from nowhere by Imran and thrown straight in after virtually no professional cricket, had hitherto endured a miserable tournament, and at Christchurch the required rate had climbed above eight per over – which was seriously steep in those days. The home crowd were readying themselves for the final.

Inzy had other ideas. While Javed Miandad kept things ticking over at the other end Inzamam went berserk, plundering 60 off only 37 balls, including one astonishing checked six into a stiff wind over extra cover that still cleared the ropes despite going higher than it did long. The crowd were stunned into anxious silence. It took a run-out to end his innings, by which point Pakistan required only 36 runs from 30 balls; a chase they easily met.

In the final Inzy again starred with the bat, confirming his arrival on the global stage with a cheeky 42 from 46 at the MCG to break English spirits; Pakistan eventually defeated Graham Gooch’s side by 22 runs to lift their first World Cup, and Inzamam would go on to establish himself as one of the modern game’s greats.

First published in 2008

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