Wasim Akram achieved great heights in his career spanning 104 Tests and 356 ODIs. With a total of 414 wickets in Tests and 502 wickets in ODIs, he became one of the world’s most fearsome fast-bowlers. There were many parallels drawn between him and the great Imran Khan. Both of these Pakistani captains were exceptional all-rounders. Yet, Imran would be remembered more when the history of Pakistan cricket is written. Despite all his achievements, Wasim Akram could not achieve what Imran Khan did achieve – A World Cup trophy. The fact that Wasim was so close to winning the World Cup trophy for Pakistan but never doing it must be hurting him far too much.
It was on this day, June 20; Pakistan lost an ODI game against Australia. Making matters worse for them, it was the World Cup final. As the first line suggests, if it was just an ODI game, Pakistan would not have played the way they played in this match. Getting out on 131 in the first innings is not the kind of performance you expect from a World Cup finalist.
Pakistan looked nervous from the start of the game. Was it an indication that they themselves had not thought of reaching to the finals of the most-coveted cricket tournament in those days? But even India had not in 1983. Yet, they gathered courage to dethrone the two-time world champions West Indies. Inzamam –ul-Haq, later on, revealed that they had misread the pitch. Opting to bat first on a windy London day was a bad call. It was one mistake their fans did not expect them to make.
They faced their fans’ ire back home. Effigies were burnt, slogans were chanted. Some of the fans did not want the players to come back to Pakistan. It is alleged that Wasim returned to Pakistan, a month later. Pakistan got to know that there was no acceptance of tolerance of defeat in Pakistan.
On the other hand, there was Australia which was deprived of a World Cup since 1987. What Steve Waugh injected in his team in 1999 included the same ingredient which Imran had injected back in 1992 in his side – It was the courage to win the big moments in the game. The only difference is that Australia treasured the learning and went onto win two consecutive World Cups after 1999 while Pakistan could not.