In 40 years, Pakistan had already become a major cricket force but the World Cup, the games most prestigious tournament had eluded it since its inception in 1975. Twice semi-finalists in 1983 and 1987 Pakistan had lost to the West Indies and Australia respectively to the bitter disappointment of its fans. 1992 was to be a different story. After a faltering start that nearly saw it eliminated in the preliminary rounds of the tournament, Pakistan picked itself up, got its act together and in a burst of inspired performances beat Australia and Sri Lanka at Perth, New Zealand, till then unbeaten, twice, at Christchurch and in the first semi-final at Auckland and then finally England at Melbourne in a memorable final. The prayers of an entire nation had been answered. Cricket is a team game and no individual can be given the entire credit. In winning the World Cup, every player made a valuable contribution, Indeed Pakistan\'s success can be attributed to the collective efforts of the players who had welded them-selves into a formidable combination.
This was the fifth World Cup, the first 3 were played in England in 1975, 1979 and 1983. The fourth was co-hosted by Pakistan and India in 1987. This time, with Australia and New Zealand playing hosts, there were a number of innovations. The entire tournament was played with a white ball, the sight-screens were black and the players wore coloured clothing instead of the traditional white. some of the matches, including the finals were day/night, played under floodlights. South Africa which had been re-admitted to the International Cricket Conference was allowed to participate, making it nine teams instead of the customary eight. It was played on a single league basis with each team playing the others once in he preliminary matches. As in 1987, the matches were restricted to 50 overs and were supervised by \"neutral\" umpires. But problems for teams like Pakistan were compounded by the fact that apart from adjusting to the extra-bounce of Australian wickets, the weather was to play a crucial role. The World Cup was staged at the fag-end of the Australian and New Zealand summer and by the time the final came around, the tournament was well and truly into autumn, unseasonable cricket weather with a lot of rain about. Thus to the inherent uncertainty of the limited-overs game was added another imponderable.
Preparations for the World Cup started when Pakistan played at Sharjah in October, 1991 in a triangular tournament, the other teams being India and the West Indies. After a disastrous start when Pakistan lost to both the West Indies and India in the earlier rounds, Pakistan came back strongly to beat India in the final. The Sharjah tournament enabled the Pakistan selectors to take a close look at some of the new players, exposing them to high-pressure cricket at an International level. The Sharjah tournament was followed by a brief visit by the West Indies who played 3 one-day matches, winning two of them and one match, at Lahore, ending in a tie. Sri Lanka toured Pakistan, soon after playing 3 test matches and four one-day internationals. This was the final preparation at home for the World Cup. Pakistan then left for Australia to play some warm-up matches in order to acclimatize themselves to the conditions in that country. Pakistan hopes received a set-back when Javed Miandad could not accompany the team because of an injury he sustained while practicing. But he recovered in time to join the team just before the start of the World Cup. But Waqar Yunus, Pakistan\'s main strike bowler had to return to Pakistan because of a back injury and this was a heavy blow. He was expected to spearhead the Pakistan bowling attack. There were to be other injuries during the tournament, the most notable being the shoulder-injury to Imran Khan resulting in him missing some key matches and Miandad who was stricken by a stomach ailment. Despite these handicaps and which would have disheartened most teams, the team never lost hope even though by the time it got to Perth, its position in the tournament was precarious, needing to win every match thereafter to make it to the final and keeping their fingers crossed that the weather would not intervene.
The team on its return to Pakistan was rightly accorded tumultuous receptions and taken out in processions where thousands gathered to welcome them joyfully.
Until the next World Cup in 1 996, Pakistan will wear the mantle of world champions. It is a title they eminently deserve but it confers on them an additional responsibility of living up to the high expectations of its supporters.
The World Cup has re-kindled interest in the game of cricket, not only in Pakistan where interest has always been great but in other cricket playing countries as well. This particular World Cup was seen live on television by millions who enjoyed not only the high standard of cricket but the spectacle of a tournament that resembled an on-going carnival.
But most of all, winning the World Cup has seen an upsurge of national pride and people from all regions and all walks of life have shared the joy and savored the triumph.
Pakistan Post Office is issuing a set of commemorative stamps to honour the newly crowned and worthy world champions.
(Contributed by: Omer Kureishi)
To commemorate the prestigious victory of Pakistan Cricket Team in the 5th World Cricket Cup 1992, Pakistan Post Office is issuing three commemorative postage stamps of Rs. 2/-, 5/- and Rs. 7/- denominations on April 27, 1992.