Hosts: Australia, New Zealand
Most runs: Martin Crowe (NZ) 456 runs
Most wickets: Wasim Akram (PAK) 18 wickets
This was the World Cup of many firsts. To begin with, the tournament was hosted in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time with Australia and New Zealand as the co-hosts. Coloured clothing with the names of the players at their back made its World Cup debut and majority of the matches were played under lights.
South Africa were a last minute addition to the tournament after their re-entry into world cricket post the apartheid era. With 9 teams, the round-robin stage was played in a league format where each team played every other team once and the top four teams in the league would play the semis.
The first 15 overs fielding restriction with only 2 fielders allowed outside the ring was introduced and that led to the birth of the pinch-hitters who would go on to change the face of limited-overs cricket later. With rain playing hide and seek for most of the tournament, a new rain rule was implemented for the tournament in which the team batting second would be given a revised target by calculating the highest scored overs of the team which batted first.
As the tournament started, many were surprised by the Kiwis who with their bits and pieces cricketers were able to produce the results. England looked good too but the defending champions Australia were out of depth.
Minnows Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka played well but finished at the bottom of the league. South Africa though were another surprise package as they got the better of many biggies.
Pakistan started poorly but an inspirational Imran Khan, armed with swing-king Wasim Akram and a young batsman named Inzamam-ul-Haq turned the things around in the later stages.
India lost too many close matches and an abandoned fixture against Sri Lanka did not help their cause. West Indies too failed to deliver in the crucial fixtures.
In the end, New Zealand led by the prolific Martin Crowe won seven of their eight matches to top the league. England were next with 5 wins and an abandoned game. South Africa too won 5 matches and Pakistan just managed to sneak into the semis at the fourth position.
In the first semi-final, Martin Crowe led his team from the front again, as he smashed 91 runs to take the Kiwis to a more than competitive total of 262/7. But Inzamam butchered the New Zealand bowling to take Pakistan to their maiden World Cup final.
But the most dramatic moment of the World Cup was yet to come. The second semi-final between England and South Africa was curtailed to 45 overs due to rain. England batted first and scored 252/6, thanks to a wonderful 83 by Graeme Hick. The South Africans were in hot pursuit and they needed 22 runs from 13 balls with 4 wickets in hand when rain interrupted play.
After the rain delay, when the revised target was flashed on the electronic screen, it left the batsmen and the entire South African dressing room in dismay. An impossible 21 runs from 1 ball and that ended their campaign in their debut World Cup.
England and Pakistan squared up against each other at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the title clash. The league match between the two teams ended in no result but not before Pakistan being bowled out for a paltry 74.
The final began in similar fashion with Pakistan losing both their openers rather cheaply. But that gave an opportunity to the country's two most prolific servants to take centrestage. Skipper Imran Khan (72) and Javed Miandad (58) steadied the ship with a gallant partnership and a late onslaught by Inzaman and Wasim Akram took Pakistan to 250.
England started poorly, losing 4 quick wickets. But a 71-run stand between Allan Lamb and Neil Fairbrother brought England back in the match. That led to Imran calling back Akram for an early second spell and that proved to be a masterstroke. Two deadly swingers by the left-armer sent Lamb and Lewis back which tilted the balance in Pakistan's favour. Fairbrother left soon and when Pringle was caught by Rameez Raja off the bowling of Imran Khan, Pakistan had conquered the world for the first time.
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