Pakistan are one of only a handful of nations who have appeared at every Cricket World Cup since the tournament began in 1975. They are also among an even smaller list of five sides to have won the trophy.
It’s a proud record and as we look ahead to the 2019 competition which starts on May 30th, we’ll recap on Pakistan’s performances since that 1975 inauguration.
The 1975 squad contained some strong players including Imran Khan, Majid Khan, Zaheer Abbas and Mushtaq Mohammad. A place in the knockout rounds looked a realistic target but a disappointing campaign saw Pakistan eliminated at the group stages after just one win in three matches.
1979 saw an improvement and, following a big victory over Australia in the groups, Asif Iqbal’s side progressed to the semi finals. Unfortunately, Pakistan couldn’t go a step further and went down to a dominant West Indian unit by 43 runs in that semi.
By now, the World Cup had become a permanent fixture on the cricketing calendar and the tournament returned to England in 1983. In an expanded competition, Pakistan made it to the semis but once again, they fell foul of the West Indies, going down by eight wickets.
The competition moved away from England for the first time in 1987 as Pakistan, along with India, shared hosting duties. Home advantage helped to an extent but it was a familiar tale for skipper Imran Khan and his side as they made way at the semi final stage, losing to eventual champions Australia.
It had been a respectable start to World Cup life for Pakistan but the 1992 tournament was to provide the best cricketing moment in the team’s history. Winning the trophy was an incredible achievement, particularly as Imran Khan’s side were on the brink of elimination before weather intervened and saved them in an earlier group game.
We will analyse the tournament in greater detail later but Pakistan’s 22-run win over England in the final gave us one of the most dramatic World Cup games ever. It was also a personal triumph for Imran who retired from cricket after giving Pakistan their greatest ever sporting moment.
Pakistan continued to be competitive but they’ve yet to repeat that dominant performance of 1992. In 1996, they were eliminated in yet another semi final as Wasim Akram ended the competition as leading wicket taker with 18 victims.
In 1999, Pakistan reached the final but ran into an exceptional Australian side who won by a big margin of eight wickets after their opponents had posted just 132 on first innings. The 2003 and 2007 tournaments ended in disappointment before Pakistan reached the semis again in 2011.
In 2015, it was a case of elimination at the quarter final stage at the hands of eventual champions Australia. In 2019, Pakistan will aim for an improvement and while recent tournaments haven’t been so productive, the squad should take some confidence from their ICC Champions Trophy win in England, in 2017.