And so there were two.
The T20 Cricket World Cup, which started almost a month ago, is set for its grand finale: England v Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia on Sunday.
But wait, have we seen this one before? For those old enough to remember, yes, in the same place, 30 years ago.
When Pakistan lost their first two games of the Super 12 stage, they were almost out of the tournament. As well as winning their remaining matches, Pakistan would need divine help as well as one of the lower ranked teams to beat powerhouses India or South Africa.
The Netherlands duly bound.
Pakistan then beat Bangladesh and is now one win away from the trophy.
Here’s why the tournament invokes déjà vu:
It started with the loss of Australia
Australia, co-hosts of the 1992 tournament, began as defending champions. They won the 1987 edition and started the 1992 tournament as one of the favourites, but lost the opening match against New Zealand and failed to qualify for the semi-finals.
Fast forward 30 years, Australia launched the defense of their T20 crown with a loss against New Zealand.
England’s victory over South Asian opponents
England began their 1992 campaign with a win over Asian India in Perth. This time, England faced Afghanistan in the same city and with the same result.
Bad start for Pakistan and defeat against India
On the other side was Pakistan, perennial slow starters. They began the 1992 campaign with a 10-wicket loss to the West Indies, meeting India a few days later and losing by 43 runs.
This time, Pakistan again lost to India, a last ball loss in their first match.
saved by the rain
In 1992, Pakistan were playing their third match of the tournament, against England, and seemed to be facing defeat when rain rescued them and the match ended, giving both teams one point each. That single point moved Pakistan up the table and sent them to the semi-finals.
While the rain did not affect any of Pakistan’s matches, it did play a role in Pakistan’s final position in the table. South Africa faced Zimbabwe in a rain-affected match and were marching to a big win when the skies opened and the match was cancelled. A win would have given South Africa two points and leveled them with Pakistan.
Intensity 🆙 🔥
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) November 11, 2022
three at a trot
After three losses, one win and one point in a rain-affected match, Pakistan’s run in the round-robin phase of the 1992 tournament ended with three straight wins.
In 2022, after losing the first two games, Pakistan restarted and won their last three games to take six points.
miracle of the last day
Pakistan went into the final day of the Super 12 knowing that even a victory would not be enough to book them a place in the semi-final. They duly beat New Zealand to do their share of the work and then waited for Australia to do the rest against the West Indies, who had a chance to progress with a win. But the West Indies lost and Pakistan secured the last place in the semi-final.
This year, Pakistan had to beat Bangladesh but, to qualify, they needed the Netherlands to beat South Africa (not possible, right?) or Zimbabwe to stun India (again, what?). The Netherlands duly complied and produced one of the most stunning upsets in World Cup history by defeating South Africa.
Semi-final victory over New Zealand
It was the first time this had happened, but all cases yielded the same result: Pakistan always beats New Zealand in a Cricket World Cup semi-final. The trend started in 1992 in Auckland, New Zealand, when Pakistan won by four wickets to enter their first World Cup final.
The latest semi-final meeting between the two sides has produced the same result: a win for Pakistan by seven wickets.
In the other three instances, Pakistan defeated New Zealand in the semi-finals of the 1999 World Cup, the 2007 World T20 and the 2009 World T20.
Finally, as in 1992, Pakistan and England will meet in a World Cup final at the MCG, but this time, both teams have already won the title once and will be looking to add a second.
Bonus (and you’ll love this)
Pakistan’s late rise was helped by a young attacking batsman born in March (1992: Inzamam-ul-Haq, 2022: Mohammad Haris).
Pakistan’s main wicket-winners to the final were a left-arm pacer and leg spinner (1992: Wasim Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed, 2022: Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shadab Khan).
England’s leading wicket-taker was an all-rounder (1992: Ian Botham, 2022: Sam Curran).
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