"Fight like cornered tigers": Imran Khan spurs on his 1992 world cup squad

15 February 2015
ADRIAN MUREL / GETTY IMAGES
ADRIAN MUREL / GETTY IMAGES

In 1992, the Pakistan cricket team under the captainship of Imran Khan won the cricket world cup for the first time. Prior to a match against Australia in Perth, Khan gathered his then-dejected teammates in their dressing room and steeled himself for what may have been one of the most important addresses in his life. In this excerpt from Osman Samiuddin's The Unquiet Ones, the author reveals what came to pass in the Pakistan team's dressing room that day. Today, Pakistan goes up against a beleaguered Indian team whose performance in the past months closely resembles that of the Pakistan team in 1992.

By most standards he probably left it too late, but by Pakistan’s, Imran Khan managed to time it just right.

By the time his side arrived in Perth to take on Australia at the 1992 World Cup, they had won just one of their first five matches and were, in the words of one player, walking dead. Never one of life’s great communicators, Imran had become ever more distant during the tournament; a chronic shoulder injury kept his physical involvement intermittent and his cancer hospital project was the primary motivation of his off-field life.

He was leading in battered body—as fierce in some training sessions as he always was—but in spirit and soul, he was absent.

"I think there’s a big communication problem in the team at the moment," Wasim Akram revealed at the time (as captured in Wasimand Waqar: Imran’s Inheritors, authored by John Crace). "For instance, Imran was talking to me about how we still had a chance, and all the youngsters hung back, but after we had left, they were asking me what he had said … it’s as if the team is scared of Imran."

Osman Samiuddin Osman Samiuddin is a sports writer with The National in Abu Dhabi and the author of The Unquiet Ones: A History of Pakistan Cricket.

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