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Recent Match Report – England vs Pakistan 1992 World Cup Final 2020

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Pakistan 249 for 6 (Imran 72, Miandad 58, Pringle 3-22) beat England 227 (Fairbrother 62, Akram 3-49, Mushtaq 3-41) by 22 runs

In the end, it had to be Imran. Pakistan’s captain, leader, talisman and icon is into his 40th year and will surely never be seen again on a cricket field after this, the triumph to end all triumphs. But when, with the game out of reach for England and only pride left to fight for, Richard Illingworth launched a tired wipe to Rameez Raja on the edge of the ring, it was Imran Khan, the bowler, whose upraised arms confirmed the end of a career-long quest, and the seizure of Pakistan’s maiden World Cup triumph.

The scorecard will say that Pakistan outlasted England to win by 22 runs – and Imran’s role was fittingly front-and-centre, in particular a captain’s innings of 72 that set the agenda for everything that followed. And yet, the numbers tell only a fraction of the story of a fraught, tense encounter in which a sprinkling of magic proved the difference between the teams.

The match panned out much as the two teams’ runs to the final had done – England, the early pace-setters, pushing Pakistan to the absolute brink in the opening exchanges, only for a few moments of good fortune to turn the tide and drain the energies of the men in light blue. And then, slowly at first, but then in a crescendo with bat and later with ball, Pakistan shed their inhibitions and turned to their inner tigers to finish with a roar that no opponent could have withstood.

The critical moment came as the players paused for drinks after 34 overs of England’s run-chase. Faced with a stiff target of 250, England had been rocking at 69 for 4 but found, in Neil Fairbrother‘s eye for a deflected single and Allan Lamb‘s old-school pugnacity, a fifth-wicket pairing with the requisite fight to take the game deep. Their stand had exactly doubled England’s total to 138 and reeled the requirement back to a manageable seven an over, when Imran decided it was time to turn back to his strike bowler, Wasim Akram, with licence to let rip.

It was a moment by which legends are born. After another new-ball burst in which Wasim’s consummate skill had been undermined by the degree of movement on offer, his return with an older, tamer ball wrecked the contest. With reverse-swing from the outset, England were on their guard, but even knowing what was liable to come his way, Lamb had no response to a delivery from the Gods, an inswinging, out-seaming gut-twister that snaked one way then the other, opening the batsman up like a can of worms before kissing past a groping edge to flick the outer half of his off stump.

ALSO READ: Akram gets into the swing of things

And if that was good in isolation, then the follow-up to Chris Lewis conferred the double-whammy instant iconic status – a flip of the shiny side of the ball to unleash a howling inswinger, one that started so wide of off stump, Lewis might have believed it would be called as such, before hurtling back through his defences as if caught in a gravitational pull, to smash the top of the stumps, and confirm that England’s hopes were gone.

Fairbrother withstood as best he could, top-scoring for England with a gutsy 62, but Pakistan had too many snake-charming overs left in their repertoire for their opponents to get back on track. If there was an error in England’s approach, it was their failure to take the attack sooner to the left-arm spin of Aamer Sohail, who burgled his way through 10 overs for 49 in the crucial mid-innings rebuild, and allowed Pakistan to paper over the fact that, with all due respect to Imran’s glorious past, they came into the game with just three frontline bowlers.

But what a trio they proved to be. Until Akram’s intercession, it seemed that Mushtaq Ahmed‘s outrageous googly to Graeme Hick might prove to be the crowning moment of the night, but his 3 for 41 was no less critical for being upstaged. In fact, in luring the ever-dangerous Graham Gooch to his doom on the slog-sweep for 29, he arguably did as much as anyone to point Pakistan towards glory.

The boy-turned-man who took that catch, sprinting, stretching, sprawling at deep midwicket for an inspired take – was the zippy seamer Aaqib Javed, whose precociously commanding performance at the top and tail of the innings returned figures of 2 for 27 to ensure that the injured Waqar Younis was barely given a passing mention. Throw in another display of unfettered strokeplay from Inzamam-ul-Haq in the latter stages of Pakistan’s innings, and it’s clear this triumph – Imran’s overlord status notwithstanding – was a testament to Pakistan’s eternal faith in youth.

But how they were made to battle by a team that came into the final as favourites after a supremely disciplined campaign, but who crucially lacked the same youthful spark to augment the ageing giants in their line-up. With the ball, Derek Pringle produced one of the great losing performances in World Cup history, and Gooch and Lamb both had their moments with the bat. But Ian Botham’s last hurrah was less of a joy. His old-pro outswingers had hoovered up 15 wickets in England’s run to the final, but just one belated scalp on the night. And with the bat, he suffered the ignominy of a sixth-ball duck, adjudged caught behind off an Akram lifter, even as umpire Aldridge was beginning his walk to square leg.

Mind you, Pakistan’s own innings hadn’t started much better. On a lively deck with juicy early movement for the seamers, their gameplan had been clear from the outset. Bed in at all cost, at the expense even of forward momentum, and trust their middle-order artillery to reprise the late onslaught that unseated New Zealand in Saturday’s thrilling semi-final.

It was a tactic fraught with risk, especially once the canny old pro Pringle had proven his fitness after missing the South Africa match with a rib injury. Manipulating the new ball like a yo-yo on its string, Pringle served up a supreme spell of wickedly intelligent medium pace, bowling eight overs off the reel for 13 runs, with only his own size-12s breaking the spell, as he overstepped for a total of five no-balls, coupled with three wides.

Pringle accounted for both openers in that first spell, Aamer Sohail for 4, who flashed with flat feet at one that nipped off the deck outside off, before Rameez Raja was pinned lbw for 8 by the inducker, a brace of deliveries that showcased his mastery of seam position, honed in so many Championship-winning seasons at Chelmsford.

But at 24 for 2 in the ninth over, and with Pakistan’s veteran pairing of Imran and Miandad already united at the crease, both teams knew that the game could be won and lost with the next breakthrough.

Initially Miandad seemed to know it more acutely than his captain. Whereas Imran was content to plant an imperious front foot down the wicket, blocking the straight ones and leaving those outside off, his partner got off to an unusually skittish start by the standards of his formidable tournament. He might have been caught in the gully on 1 as Lewis bent his back in an excellent new-ball spell, before scuffing a drive inches short of midwicket two balls later.

And then, in the space of two deliveries, came a pair of let-offs will surely haunt Pringle to the end of his days. With teasing shape back into the right-hander’s front pad, Miandad was rapped plumb in front of the stumps, then plumber still – from an even fuller length, so taking out any doubt about the height. On both occasions umpire Bucknor shook his head, and Pringle could only flap his hands in disgust, ruing a moment lost, but confident it could yet come again.

For even with those let-offs, Pakistan were seemingly going nowhere on 34 for 2 at the 17-over drinks break. But as Imran might as well have muttered during a mid-over conflab, “Ghabrana nahin hai (don’t panic)”. Sure enough, the introduction of Ian Botham broke the shackles a touch, as Miandad skipped to the pitch of a drive through mid-on for four in an opening over that yielded nine.

But it was Imran himself who had the next key let-off when, on 9 from 41 balls, Phil DeFreitas banged in a short ball that rushed onto a pre-meditated pull. Gooch at square leg, all 38 years of him, sprinted full pelt as the ball plummeted over his shoulder, but despite a valiant dive, he was unable to wrap his fingers round the chance.

Whether that was the game there and then, who knows. But slowly but surely, the MCG’s vast outfield began to look chock-full of scoring opportunities, as England’s tiring team – already feeling the strain after a long winter campaign – began to be pulled apart at the seams. From 70 for 2 at the halfway mark of the innings, the game was still in their grasp. At 96 for 2 after 30, they were getting anxious for a wicket. And at 125 for 2 after 35, with Dermot Reeve flogged from the attack with a 12-run over that brought up the hundred partnership, they were getting desperate.

Miandad, in his fifth World Cup, duly became the first Pakistani to score 1000 runs at the tournament, and by the time he was finally extracted in the 40th over for 58 – unfurling the reverse-sweep against Illingworth where conventional mowing through the line had been serving him just fine – the arrival of the helmetless Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s break-out star of the semi-final, wasn’t exactly a blessing. At 163 for 3 with ten overs in which to make merry, the stage was perfectly set for Pakistan’s much-vaunted finishers.

Imran knew it too. On 72, having done his bit and more, he aimed an ambitious wipe at his fellow legendary allrounder Botham, and picked out Illingworth on the edge of long-on boundary. He departed to a rich ovation, safe in the knowledge that he had risen to the occasion in what will surely now be his final, final farewell. And handed the reins to his other young gun, Akram.

Between them, Inzamam and Akram drained England’s troops of their resolve, adding 75 in 53 balls between them, with Inzamam’s initial flurry of four fours in his first ten balls giving way to a supporting role as Wasim took up the cudgels in the final five overs. He cracked four fours in his 18-ball 33, including a brace of venomous swipes to wreck Lewis’s figures in his final over, and though Pringle returned to outfox Inzamam for a richly deserved third wicket, a target of 250 – four more than England had failed to chase in Calcutta five years earlier – was daunting.

And by the time Pakistan had sprinkled their magic on the contest, it was overwhelming.



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Sourav Ganguly to Virat Kohli – ‘I expect you to win in Australia’

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BCCI president Sourav Ganguly expects Virat Kohli‘s side to register their second successive Test series win in Australia when they tour down under later this year. Ganguly stated the upcoming tour would be tougher than the previous outing of 2018-19 but said India also had the batting and bowling to do well there.

“I have said that to Virat also,” Ganguly told India Today in an interview. “I said, ‘because you’re Virat Kohli, your standards are high. When you walk to play, when you walk with your team, I, watching on TV, don’t expect you to just play well against Australia. I expect you to win. So for me, that is what it is. Because you have set the standards. It’s not anybody else. So you have to live up to the standards.'”

On their 2018-19 tour, India had recorded their first Test series win in Australia, winning the four-match series 2-1. Australia were then without two of their batting mainstays Steven Smith and David Warner, who were serving a one-year ban each due to their role in the ball-tampering incident in the Cape Town Test against South Africa in 2018. Ganguly acknowledged this “milestone series” would not be as easy this time.

“It’s going to be a tough series,” he said. “It’s not going to be what it was in 2018 when they went. It’s going to be a strong Australia but our team is as good. We have the batting, we have the bowling.

“Absolutely [hopeful of the team]. We just got to bat better. You know the best teams overseas, they bat well. When we were so successful away from home, in England, in Australia and in Pakistan, we were getting 400, 500 and 600 in Test matches.

India’s last international assignment was in March – a three-match ODI series against South Africa, which was called off in the wake of Covid-19 after a washout in the first game. While some of the players, including Cheteshwar Pujara and Mohammed Shami, have resumed training, one of India’s major concerns will be to ensure an injury-free return of their players, especially the fast bowlers.

“I have been in touch with him (Kohli), telling him, ‘you have got to stay fit.’ You haven’t played cricket for six months, you don’t want your fast bowlers to come back and get injured. They have been training, [but] training and playing cricket is different. You have got to make sure your best bowlers are ready for the tour and fit. Whether it’s Shami, whether it’s [Jasprit] Bumrah, whether it’s Ishant [Sharma], whether it’s [Hardik] Pandya, they have to be at the top of their match fitness when they land in Australia.”

Ganguly further said the BCCI had thought about a roadmap to start training camps in India, but with the rising Covid-19 cases, especially in the big cities, it was “too risky” to do anything soon.

“We have thought about the roadmap. We have the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) in place. The BCCI and the NCA have worked extensively in getting the proper SOPs. That have been circulated to state associations. At the moment, there is no chance of camp because of what is happening, what the situation is in the country. It’s too risky. In Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, it’s just risky. So we will have to wait.

“If at all the IPL happens in October – the Asia Cup has been cancelled – so maybe August-September would be the time where we can pull the players out and get them together for 15 days. We have got things in place but at the same time, the safety of the players is very important because they are long-term assets for India. One series, one IPL is not more important than player safety. But we want it to happen provided everything is in order.”

India’s tour to Australia is scheduled to kick-off in October with three T20Is, followed by four Tests and three ODIs.

“We just hope the number of quarantine days get reduced a bit because you don’t want the players to go all the way that far and sit in hotel rooms for two weeks,” Ganguly said. “It’s very depressing and disappointing. So we are looking at that and December is still a long way.”



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Simmons ‘extremely pleased’ as West Indies quicks seize moment

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West Indies head coach Phil Simmons hailed his bowling attack’s persistence and patience after five late wickets put his team into the driving seat against England.

When Zak Crawley and Ben Stokes combined for a fluent partnership of 98, the bulk of which were made after the tea interval, it had looked as though the game was drifting away from West Indies, who had managed only three wickets in the day. But after Jason Holder removed Stokes for the second time in the match, Alzarri Joseph and Shannon Gabriel took two wickets apiece in quick spells which seemed to vindicate Holder’s emphasis on discipline and patience throughout the match.

“It showed the persistence of the bowlers,” Simmons said. “We’d been fighting all day and Stokes and Zak started to take the bowling apart. But the persistence of Jason [was rewarded] and then Alzarri’s spell was a huge spell too.

ALSO READ: Late burst from WI seamers hits England hopes

“I’m extremely pleased with the way the bowlers bowled today – both when two batters [Rory Burns and Dom Sibley] batted before lunch and more so when Stokes and Crawley were trying to take it away from us.

“The patience we exhibited has been something that we’ve been asking for for a while, and today it showed up. We bore the fruit of that in the evening session. You can’t really say much more – they stuck to their tasks.”

In particular, the flurry of wickets before the close seemed to reward Holder’s sparing use of his two strike bowlers earlier in the day.

While it would have been tempting to throw Gabriel and Joseph the ball and ask them to target England’s top three with bouncers, Holder instead split the bulk of the workload between the relentless Kemar Roach, himself, and offspinner Roston Chase, choking England’s scoring on a slow pitch.

That meant that Joseph had bowled only 11 of the day’s 80 overs when he returned to bowl with the second new ball still offering movement, and the rewards were immediate: his was the fastest spell of the innings, and accounted for both Crawley – caught and bowled in his follow-through – and Buttler, who was bowled through the gate.

Gabriel, too, was fresh upon his return after only 12 overs in the day, and twice beat Dom Bess in the off-stump channel in the first over of his spell before knocking out his off pole in his second. Four balls later, he got one to lift from a length which Ollie Pope only managed to chop on, leaving England eight wickets down with a slender lead of 165.

Simmons said that there had not been a specific plan to leave some energy in the tank moving into the final hour, but hailed Holder’s management of his bowlers throughout the match so far.

“It’s just how the captain sees it when he’s out there,” Simmons said. “That’s just the way he rotated his bowlers today, and it worked well for us in the end.

“When [Alzarri] is bowling like he bowled this evening here, he’s always going to be a threat to any batting line-up we play against. That’s the thought we are trying to get in his head: that this is the type of spell we want from him and need from him.

“Part of Test cricket is about patience, especially when you have wickets like this to play on, and it’s something that we’ve been working on hard – not getting bored at doing the simple things and the basic things for a while to put people under pressure. I’m glad to see it’s working, and guys are thinking about what we’ve been working on.”

Simmons gave further praise to Gabriel, who has now taken seven wickets in his first first-class appearance since last September following a long ankle lay-off.

“It shows his desire to play for West Indies, coming back from ankle surgery and doing all the hard work he’s done. Even during lockdown in Trinidad, he was finding ways to train to get himself fit for this series. You can only compliment him.

“I’m sure that Jason is happy to have him, Roach is happy to have him as an opening partner, and Alzarri is coming up with them. It’s great to see the combination and how they’re working together. That’s the important thing, how they bowl together and it’s showing and it’s improving.”

As for the fourth innings, Simmons suggested that the benefit of late wickets was that it meant there would be little in the way of scoring pressure on his batsmen.

“We’ve got to get the two wickets, and whatever is put in front of us, we have a day to bat. The confidence from the way we batted and the attitude towards batting in the first innings is going to be a huge plus for us when we bat in the second innings.

“Whether we’re chasing 170 or 190, it’s going to be the same attitude that we need to chase it. I have confidence in that.”



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Recent Match Report – England vs West Indies 1st Test 2020

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England 204 and 284 for 8 (Sibley 50, Crawley 76, Archer 5*, Wood 1*, Gabriel 3-62) lead West Indies 318 by 170 runs

West Indies’ seamers took five wickets in the final 75 minutes of the fourth day to leave an enthralling Test match in the balance at the Ageas Bowl.

England looked to have put themselves into a very strong position as Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley made half-centuries, batting time on a pitch with variable bounce, as thoughts turned to what sort of lead they might want before declaring on the final day.

But after Jason Holder drew an edge to second slip from Ben Stokes, the wickets tumbled: Alzarri Joseph accounted for Crawley and Jos Buttler in the day’s quickest spell before Shannon Gabriel ripped through Dom Bess and Ollie Pope to leave West Indies dreaming of a famous win.

Rory Burns and Dom Sibley had survived a brutal 10-over examination on the third evening but found scoring easier in the morning session, moving through the gears as they added 47 in the first hour of the day. But Holder reacted, bowling dry in tandem with offspinner Roston Chase, and the scoring pressure eventually told as Burns spooned a catch to point off Chase’s first half-tracker of the day.

Sibley in particular dropped anchor. He was occasionally bogged down against Chase, and seemed to be caught in two minds when Holder asked Joseph to target his ribcage, a tactic which proved to be his undoing in his final three innings in South Africa and even in the intra-squad warm-up match. He was handed a life the ball after passing fifty, dragging a back-of-a-length delivery from Gabriel onto his stumps only for the third umpire to decide that he overstepped by a fine margin. But Gabriel had his man two balls later, firing a length ball down the leg side from wide on the crease which Sibley only managed to tickle through to Shane Dowrich.

Denly, backed at No. 3 ahead of Crawley, played the sort of innings that has become his trademark, for better or worse. He struggled early on, playing and missing repeatedly and surviving a shout for a catch off Holder which was shown to have looped up to second slip via his body on review. He grew in fluency as his innings wore on, but his dismissal – chipping an innocuous delivery from Chase to straight midwicket – was nothing if not soft.

Denly’s failings were exposed further by Crawley’s success. Chris Silverwood had hinted in the build-up to this Test that Denly was likely to be included for the second Test when Joe Root returns, telling the BBC: “Joe is in possession at the moment, and I do believe in giving people one too many chances rather than one not enough.”

But it seems implausible that Crawley will lose his place after an innings that oozed class, with a straight drive down the ground off Roach early in his innings one of the shots of the day. While England’s top three relied on flicks, pulls and dabs behind square, Crawley scored the vast majority of his runs in front of the wicket, driving elegantly and using his long levers to hit over the top off Chase.

West Indies looked short of ideas against him and Stokes during their partnership of 98, with Stokes in particular taking a disdainful approach to Gabriel’s new-ball spell as England looked to make the game secure. But again Holder’s emphasis on discipline reaped rewards, as Stokes edged to second slip to fall to his opposite number for the second time in the match before Crawley offered a return catch to Joseph six balls later.

The game turned on its head in a hurry. Joseph, who had been used sparingly earlier in the day rather than being rammed into the ground, bowled with good pace, and burst through Buttler’s loose shot to leave England six wickets down.

While Buttler’s failure to make a telling score will undoubtedly put him under scrutiny – his average since the start of last summer’s Ashes is now just 21.38 – Joseph’s spell was brutal, as he found movement with the ball still relatively new. Tellingly, his celebrations were muted even after his breakthroughs, as if to emphasise that there was still a job to be done.

The benefits of Holder’s captaincy were evident again when Gabriel was unleashed in the final half-hour. He castled Bess, targeting the stumps from wide on the crease, before Pope dragged on with England staring down the barrel, only 165 ahead with two wickets in hand. Mark Wood and Jofra Archer snuck England through to the close with a lead of 170, and will be tasked with spending time in the middle before making more of an impact than they managed in the first innings.



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