When the team embarked for the tour Down Under to begin their World Cup 1992 campaign, players in the team may not even had thought of becoming legends from then onwards, especially after a poor start, except for charismatic Imran Khan.
The team won only one out of the five first matches, and a match drawn against England, even after Pakistan were bowled out for a paltry total of 74 only to be saved by rain, which forced the match to abandon giving the men in green one vital point.
And then it was the important match against host Australia at Perth, which was a turning point in Pakistan World Cup campaign. “Just before the match, Imran Khan came into the dressing room and spoke for only about 20 minutes. But he turned our thinking upside down and we were a different lot in the rest of the tournament after that 20 minutes,” recalled Aqib Javed, who spearheaded pace attack for Pakistan in 1992 along with Wasim Akram.
“He infused a belief in us. Imran had that unique quality, which every leader must have, which is to make his audience believe in what he was saying. To me, it was a great change, and whatever cricket I had played before and after that match, no experience could be compared with the inspiration that he instilled in all of us,” he said.
Team Pakistan won that match and all the matches after that to find a place in the climax of the tournament.
“There was only one person in the team who was cent percent sure, whether we win or lose a match, that it is us who is destined to lift this World Cup. It was our captain Imran Khan. There was a time when we thought that it wasn’t possible because at the end it depended on another team losing for us to qualify for the semifinals. But it happened and we qualified for semifinals and then it was all a dream come true. It was a great time for all of us,” said Rameez Raja, another World Cup winning team member.
In the summit clash, it was again England – the team, which was only restrained earlier by rain from recording a victory against Pakistan, which might have been the biggest margin win of the tournament. Pakistan lost two early wickets of Aamer Sohail and Ramiz Raja, but Imran (72 runs) supported by Javed Miandad (58), anchored the inning and helped Pakistan to put a respectable total of 249-6.
Wasim Akram, Mushtaq Ahmed and Aaqib Javed shared eight wickets between them with the charismatic captain Imran taking the last wicket to seal Pakistan’s most famous win ever. The scene of Imran lifting the trophy has its great aura around it, just ask cricket fans in Pakistan. After that win, Imran called it a day and became the first skipper of Pakistan to retire elegantly.
The team, which Imran led in the World Cup 1992 would see nine of its members becoming captains when their time came. That was the appeal those players of the ‘Dream Team’ had. Although it may reveal some sort of power struggle, which sometimes had also been the case, but those players had reached the level of legends, and questioning their captaincy credentials was out of question for many.
The World Cup once again would be held Down Under, with many matches to be played at the same venues. The final will again be played at the same Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, where each member of Team Pakistan ascended to reach the status of legends.
The question here is whether Misbah-ul-Haq can emulate Imran Khan Down Under? As a skipper, Misbah has broke many records for Pakistan but he must do something more important to win the World Cup. He has to become as charismatic as Imran and instill confidence and a passion to win the World Cup. No matter how strong the other teams would be, the teams were stronger back in 1992, but Misbah should have a belief like Imran that the World Cup belongs to team Pakistan and they must put their best to claim it.
All eyes are now on Misbah, how he take things and unite the team to do something heroic Down Under just as Imran Khan and his boys did back in 1992.