Bengaluru, June 27: Pakistan seem to have taken the cricketing world on a time-machine ride.
They registered their third win in the ongoing World Cup on Wednesday and the six-wicket victory over New Zealand had yet another eerie similarity with their historic mission of 1992.
Sarfaraz Ahmed's side rattled the Kiwi top order, thanks to a three-wicket opening-spell burst from left-arm seamer Shaheen Afridi and even though had a good recovery to reach 237, an unbeaten century from Babar Azam saw them through. This loss was New Zealand's first in the World Cup.
In the 1992 edition, too, New Zealand had lost their first game to Pakistan after a long streak of wins. Another Pakistan left-arm pacer named Wasim Akram had floored the Kiwis in that game with a four-wicket haul and Ramiz Raja made an unbeaten 119 to give Pakistan a significant win that took them to the semifinal.
To add to the eeriness, the 1992 game was also played on Wednesday (March 18), just like the latest encounter.
Pakistan's latest win though hasn't yet earned them a place in the semifinals for they have to win both their remaining games now and pray for England and Bangladesh to lose their remaining ones. Or put in another way, Pakistan will be banking a lot on India now, hoping they win all their games left in the league.
But otherwise, Pakistan's journey till now has been a ditto of their 1992 mission. They had started with a loss to the West Indies in the earlier edition. This time, too, it started with a loss against the same Caribbeans. Pakistan won their second game in 1992 defeating Zimbabwe while this time, it was England. In 1992, their third game against England was washed out while in 2019, their third fixture against Sri Lanka was abandoned.
Imran Khan's side had lost their next two matches against India and South Africa while Sarfaraz's team lost their next two against Australia and India. Pakistan were on the brink at this stage on both occasions.
In 1992, they beat Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand to make a strong return and qualify for the semifinals with nine points. This year, they have beaten South Africa and New Zealand in back-to-back games till now to reach seven points and are favourites to make it three out of three as their next opponents are Afghanistan at Leeds on Saturday. A win there will take them to nine points from eight matches, making it arepeat of the 1992 drama.
However, since the tournament this time is a 10-team affair and the sides are playing a game more, nine points may not be sufficient for the Greenshirts still. Bangladesh are the other side that is playing impressively in this tournament and they also have seven points in as many games at the moment. What's even more dramatic is that they have a match left against each other. If England lose their remaining two games and both Pakistan and Bangladesh win their next matches, then the July 5 clash between Pakistan and Bangladesh at Lord's will be a virtual quarter-final. Whoever win that game, the year that will be discussed more on that day will be 1971 more than 1992.
To add some other similarities between the 1992 and 2019 tournaments, the two previous World Cups before 1992 were won by India (1983) and Australia (1987). Also, the two previous WCs before 2019 were won by India (2011) and Australia (2015). And while the man of the match of the sixth game that Pakistan had played in 1992 (vs Australia) was Aamer Sohail, it was another Sohail - Haris - who picked up the reward in Pakistan's sixth match in the 2019 trophy which was played against South Africa.