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World Cup flashbacks: When nervous Australian players ‘ran away' after beating Pakistan in 1987 semifinal

Greg Dyer

Bengaluru, April 26: The 1987 World Cup was a special one for Australia. It was that year when the Kangaroos won their maiden world title in cricket, beating arch-rivals England by seven runs in an absorbing final at the Eden Gardens.

Though considered as underdogs before the tournament, Australia went on to prove all wrong and lost just one game in the entire tournament and it was against India. They gave the hosts and defending champions a close chase for the top position in the group, but ended up second after India blew away New Zealand in their final group game to avoid Pakistan in the semifinals.

Australia were set to meet Imran Khan's side in the semifinal at Lahore. They had never won against Pakistan in their den in a ODI till then and given the form that Imran's team was in that tournament, it was an uphill task.

But Australia were a confident team by then and displayed superior skills on that day (November 4) to tame Pakistan's ambitions. They put up a score of 267 for eight in 50 overs and then bowled the home team out for 248 despite stiff resistance from Javed Miandad (70) and Imran (58), who added 112 for the fourth wicket.

Aussie spearhead Craig McDermott claimed five wickets for 44 runs to pick the man of the match award.

Zia's grimace made Australia nervous

However, the Australians did not feel it comfortable post their historic win that took them to the final of a World Cup for the second time after the inaugural edition in 1975. The visitors could sense the disappointment among the local supporters and according to a piece in The Australian, post-match presentations prolonged the tension and the "frozen rictus" on the face of the then Pakistani military dictator, Zia-ul-Haq, made the winning team members tense.

The piece even cited Bruce Wilson of The Herald who said: "not a sight one would like to have as one's last on earth".

Greg Dyer, the Australian wicket-keeper who took four catches in the match, quoted the team manager as saying after they returned to their rooms: "Shit boys, I'm not sure I like the look of this. We'd better get out of here", added The Australian.

Dyer added how they put their things back into their bags and rushed to the waiting bus. He remembers the day as the only one in his career when he left a cricket ground wearing spikes. The Australians left Pakistan in a chartered flight for Kolkata (then Calcutta) where the final was scheduled on November 8.

In Kolkata, though, Allan Border's side had a different experience. They were the local favourites for beating Pakistan and also taking on England who defeated India in the other semi-final in Mumbai (Bombay then).

Australia didn't let their fans down.

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Story first published: Friday, April 26, 2019, 15:10 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 26, 2019
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