Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pakistan's World Cup Journey - An atroicious beginning - 1975

Pakistan, a team which since its inception in 1952 has become an epitome of capriciousness , has lived up to its ability to explode and annihilate their opponents on their day regardless of the fact who it is yet implode in front of a paltry force such as Ireland  when it comes to their World Cup campaigns.

Pakistan initiated their World Cup journey along with seven other countries of whom all were Test sides barring Sri Lanka and East Africa, as the first edition of ICC’s cricket world cup, officially called the Prudential Cup, kicked off in England on 7th June 1975.

Pakistan was drawn with Australia, Sri Lanka and West Indies. West Indies entered the tournament as a formidable unit boasting names such as Clive Lloyd, Andy Roberts, Derek Murray, Gordon Greenidge, Alvin Kalicharan and Roy Fredericks. Meanwhile, Australia had a fiery bowling department with Lilee and Thompson, who were further complemented by a batting line-up consisting of the Chappell brothers, Alan Turner and Rod Marsh. Sri Lanka was an unknown quantity on international stage and the three teams together with the unpredictable Pakistan formed a seemingly group of death.

Having one of the most balanced squads, Pakistan was being led by an able leader in Asif Iqbal and the young Javed Miandad, maestro Zaheer Abbas, swift Wasim Bari, composed Sadiq Muhammad, sensational Sarfraz Nawaz and the wonder Imran Khan were all part of the first contingent that left Pakistan to attain cricket’s highest honor. In spite of being looking a competitive unit on paper Pakistan imploded on the field to make an early exit from the showpiece event.

Pakistan got their first World Cup campaign underway against Australia at Headingly. Batting first Australia amassed a challenging 278 on the board from their 60 overs. Five of the top six Australian batsmen chipped in with handy contributions of which Ross Edwards’ 80 off 94 stood out due to his calculated attack and immaculate timing of the ball. Chasing a total of 279, Pakistan were under immense pressure from ball one. The pressure soon started telling on them as they lost Sadiq Muhammad, Zaheer Abbas and Mushtaq Muhammad in quick succession, leaving them tottering at 68 for 3.

On the other end Majid Khan stood firm signaling a fight from Pakistan’s fragile batting. Along with Asif Iqbal, he managed to raise the score to 104 with Asif carrying onto 181 with Wasim Raja before getting his stumps rattled by Lilee. Till that point it had been a case of fortune favoring the brave but as soon as Iqbal turned towards the pavilion the luck too ran out for Pakistan. Soon Lilee unleashed his searing pace as the Pakistan lower-order capitulated to lose by a significant margin of 73 runs despite Majid Khan’s valiant effort of 65 from 76 balls, giving Lilee 5 for 34 and the man of the match award.

Match Scorecard:

Four days later, Pakistan faced off the mighty West Indies at Edgbaston. After opting to bat, Majid Khan set the tone for a high scoring game with his bold shot making. Mushtaq Muhammad and Wasim Raja followed the suit by scoring enterprising half-centuries as Pakistan managed to accumulate 266 runs in their stipulated 60 overs.

West Indian top order crumbled in front of Sarfraz Nawaz who reduced them to 36 for 3 by getting key wickets of Gordon Greenidge, Alvin Kalicharan and Roy Fredericks. Pakistan went on to damage them further as West Indies were reduced to 99 for 5 at one stage with Viv Richards back in the hut. Clive Lloyd eased the West Indian nerves with a stimulating half century as West Indies recovered from 99 for 5 to 145 for 5 before Lloyd and Julien were dismissed in quick succession as Pakistan sniffed victory.

Soon West Indies found themselves staring at defeat on 203 for 9 when the last pair of Derek Murray and Andy Roberts started knitting a partnership as West Indies clawed their way back into the match. Pakistan went on to lose the thriller as West Indies rode onto a fairy-tale 11th wicket partnership of 64 runs between DL Murray and Andy Roberts to reach the target with a wicket and two balls to spare. It effectively ended Pakistan’s first ever World cup campaign, who earned a crushing 192-run consolation victory over not-yet-a-Test-side Sri Lanka at Nottingham.

Match Scorecard:

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