After the first four editions were played in the Northern Hemisphere, the ICC Cricket World Cup shifted to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time. There were several other firsts in this tournament as well. It was the first edition to be played in Australia and New Zealand. It was the first tournament where teams had coloured clothing. It was also the first time that the World Cup was played with the white ball and it was also in this edition that two new balls were used in the match. Significantly, the cricketing world welcomed the return of South Africa back into the fold after 21 years of isolation due to apartheid. This meant that the tournament was played with nine teams and involved a round-robin style of matches.
South Africa started the tournament with a bang as they dazzled the world with their pace bowling, batting and fielding, exemplified by Allan Donald and Jonty Rhodes. Australia, the 1987 champions, started disastrously while India also stumbled. New Zealand displayed their might in home conditions but the World Cup was typified by how Pakistan bounced back.
Imran Khan considered one of the greatest all-rounders in cricket and who was coaxed out of retirement to lead the side for the 1992 World Cup, had his back to the wall. Pakistan was hammered by the West Indies and they lost to arch-rivals India and South Africa. In Adelaide, they were bowled out for 74 by England but they were rescued by rain. However, Imran’s ‘cornered tiger’ quote before the game in Perth against Australia galvanised Pakistan and they won the remaining games to enter the semi-final.
New Zealand also rode on Martin Crowe’s brilliance and the efficiency of their bowlers in Gavin Larsen, Chris Harris, Rod Latham and Willie Watson, who was dubbed Dibbly, Dobbly, Wibbly, Wobbly. England was strong while South Africa defied the odds and reached the final. In the first semi-final, New Zealand’s dream run was ended thanks to a brilliant 60 off 37 balls from Inzamam-ul-Haq while South Africa was denied by the rain-rule against England in Sydney.
In the final, Imran’s 72 helped Pakistan reach 249/6 and a brilliant spell of bowling from Wasim Akram, who took 3/41 including two in one over helped Pakistan beat England by 22 runs to win the World Cup for the first time. The 1992 World Cup represented the ultimate fightback and in the end, the most mercurial team won it.
Most runs: Martin Crowe of New Zealand. Runs: 456. Average: 114
Most wickets: Wasim Akram of Pakistan. Wickets: 18. Average: 18.77
Venues: Australia and New Zealand