The final of the World Cup is the biggest stage for any cricketer to leave his mark on the game. And as the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup is all set to get underway, we look back at star performers in World Cup finals over the years. In this piece, we revisit the Benson & Hedges World Cup final in 1992, in which Pakistan defeated England by 22 runs.
Wasim Akram: The left-armer pacer had already made a name for himself as one of the best fast bowlers in the business, but the performance in the 1992 final put him on an even higher pedestal. Chasing 250 to win the final, England were in reasonable position at 141 for 4, with two well-set batsmen at the crease when Akram delivered those two lethal yorkers to get rid of Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis of successive deliveries to turn the match around. Earlier, Akram had also picked up Ian Botham for a duck. That was not all; Akram had chipped in with the bat as well, blasting a quick 33 from 18 balls with 4 fours. It was pretty much his day at Melbourne.
Imran Khan: The veteran, who was then 40, played through injury in the World Cup, but was inspired enough to come up with a solid effort on the day that mattered. Batting first, Pakistan had lost their in-form openers cheaply. But, Khan led from the front and held the innings together for Pakistan, featuring in a resurrecting partnership with another legend Javed Miandad. Khan's assured 72 came from 110 balls, and featured five fours and one six. By the time he was dismissed by Botham, Pakistan were nearing 200, and were on their way to a challenging total.
Neil Fairbrother: He was a gutsy one-day player, and in the big final, he proved again why he was rated so highly. Chasing a tough target, England needed someone to anchor the innings along, and Fairbrother took that responsibility. He made a dogged 62 from 70 balls with three fours, before the pressure of the rising run-rate and wickets falling got to him. Had Fairbrother received some support from the other end, he might as well, have taken England much closer to victory. As it turned out, the left-hander got none.
The supporting acts: There were many as far as Pakistan were concerned, none bigger than Miandad, who featured in that crucial partnership with Imran. Miandad made 58 from 98 balls with 4 fours. Inzamam-ul-Haq chipped in with a crucial 42 from 35 balls while extras themselves contributed 32. For England, Derek Pringle finished with superb figures 3 for 22. With the bat, Allan Lamb made 31 and Graham Gooch 29. Among Pakistan's bowlers, Mushtaq Ahmed picked up three wickets and Aaqib Javed two.
--By A Cricket Analyst