First of all for the Mathematically Inclined this does not seem correct. The Reliance world cup was held in 87 so it should have been 91 World Cup. Yes that’s right; but the cricket world cup was being hosted in Australia and New Zealand. They followed their own rules and the summers in the Southern Hemisphere Start in December so it was a 92 world cup to ensure glorious sunshine but ironically this was the world cup which was marred by rain and arbitrary rain related rules.
Yes another 4.5 years went by I was now studying Engineering. Things had changed from the innocent days of the 83 summer. India no longer wanted to be a closed market economy. We had a new Prime Minister P V Narsimha Rao who signaled the change in Economic Policy and came In Manmohan Singh who’s Mantra was liberalization and so did the winds of change started blowing in all directions. All of a Sudden we Indians were spoiled with a lot of choice we could watch more than one channel on TV that was amazing and of course we were watching cricket coverage on STAR sports network for a change.
Politically things were changing in one of the pariah of a nation in Sothern Hemisphere. Sorry It was not Australia but South Africa. Apartheid heard of it before the institutionalized policy of Racial Segregation adopted by South Africa was officially dismantled. Wait a minute if you are wondering why I am talking about this.. Well South Africa was a test playing nation one of the core members of ICC before it was boycotted by the International Community for their anachronistic political ideology. But everyone deserves a second chance as the south African government steered clear of its apartheid policy it was welcome back with open arms by the International Cricket Community with our Indian Cricket board taking the lead. So here we go we had a extra county playing in the 92 world cup and sure they were the toast of the town where ever they played.
We were all more used to cricketers playing in white in one dayers but this world cup changed it all. For a bit of Cricketing history It all had to do with a guy call Kerry Packer of channel 9 . He was an out of the box thinker and modern one day cricket owes a lot to him. To make it short he had the vision to challenge the Australian Cricket Board to introduce a more spectator friendly cricket in front of the audience. Colored Clothing, Statistical Higlights, Day night cricket were all a part of his Product Called World Series Cricket. Though he faced intial resistance from the establishment in the end his vision of cricket was accepted as the way in to the future. So in essence this all culminated in the World cup of 92 being played in color clothing and in flood light lit stadiums. And the phrase Men in Blue caught on with the Indian public’s imagination
Well Now all that being said let me spare some time to actually talk about the cricket which was played in the world cup. So we had 9 countries playing each other in a round robin format and of Course I still being a die hard Indian Fan was rooting from them from the onset of the tournament Md Azharuddin the lanky lad of the 80’s had now been crowned the captain of the Indian Cricket and he had a task at hand. Strangely Indian team had a string of very narrow defeats much to the discontentment of the Indian Fans. But to make Indian Fans happy our neighbors were having an equally miserable time out there. The Kiwis were ruling the roost and Martin Crowe was doing everything right opening the bowling with a Spinner Deepak Patel !!. Strangely there was no Duck worth Lewis rule and the rain affected matches were decided by a arbitrary rule which favored the teams’ batting first. Our Poor Indian team was at the receiving end of that rule. Midway down the tournament India looked in with a chance to make the semis but some thing incredible happened to our neighboring team… “Imran Khan had a vision he would win the world cup just kidding he rallied his battle wounded troupes to fight it till the end sure they turned a corner they started winning and it never stopped. As the league ended a beleaguered Aussies team found itself out of the contention for the Semis with New Zealand and England albeit with a surprise loss to Zimbabwe were running amok their opponents. South Africa did it slow and steady and our Neighboring team by that time had shed their sheep’s skin and our Men in Blue joined Srilanka , Westindies, and Zimbabwean teams AS ALSO RANS!!
As the Semis were round the corner there was a buzz across our borders. Imran was almost being compared to Qaid E Azam. It was Kiwis vs the Pak and Proteas vs the Pommies. Sure Some people built their reputations as a patriotic Kiwi croud was awaiting the passage of their beloved team to the finals they saw their nemesis in a gangly youth called Inzam ul Haq who bludgeoned the Kiwis to submission in that fateful match putting paid to all their hopes. The other Semi final ended in a anticlimax where the proteas who were very much with a chance to beat the pommies were cursed by the rain gods into submission. The South Africans got the wrong end of the stick of the much criticized rain rule and they exited the tournament with their heads High and reputation enhanced.
Now after all this our Neighboring team was confidence personified they had the belief and were now the overwhelming favorites. Sure It was to be a Swan Song for both Ian Botham and Imran Khan but Imran had the last laugh that day.. At the MCG on March 25 , 1992 in spite of a large Contingent in the Stands supporting the English Graham Gooch’s team finished second best to Imran’s all conquering team courtesy of a inspirational performance from Wasim Akram who dismissed Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in consecutive balls to knock the wind out of a English fight back. Sure it sparked wild celebrations across the border and Imran Khan went on to build a charity Hospital and ever since dreamed on becoming the president of Pakistan!!!!