1992 the flavour as Pakistan looks to repeat history and England seeks to rewrite it

The teams will draw inspiration from their semifinal exploits that came after gut-wrenching defeats in the Super 12s

Updated - November 13, 2022 12:14 pm IST

Published - November 12, 2022 04:49 pm IST - Melbourne

Quo Vadis: Pakistan captain Babar Azam and England skipper Jos Buttler with the trophy they will be doing battle for.

Quo Vadis: Pakistan captain Babar Azam and England skipper Jos Buttler with the trophy they will be doing battle for. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

The sun seemed a marginal presence and there is a forecast for rain and yet this Sunday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground could well be a leap back in time. The rivals are the same — Pakistan and England — and at the same venue back in the 1992 50-over World Cup final, Imran Khan’s men got past Graham Gooch’s troops.

The Pakistani fans expect nothing less than a repeat act. Meanwhile, England will try and avoid past mistakes and after having busted India’s party, is itching to do the same to the neighbour across the Wagah border. The ICC Twenty20 World Cup final pits rivals who have found a second wind while Group 1 and 2 toppers — New Zealand and India respectively — have retreated.

Busting the odds

In the league phase, Pakistan and England suffered gut-wrenching defeats, with the former succumbing to Zimbabwe and the latter collapsing against Ireland. Yet when the business end loomed, these two units survived, busted the odds, and now get one last tilt at the trophy. The greats, who battled in the 1992 summit clash, would be glued to their television sets.

Also Read | T20 World Cup 2022 | Pakistan must ride wave of confidence in T20 World Cup final: Babar Azam

Imran Khan, recovering from a gunshot wound in his legs, and Ian Botham, recuperating after knee replacement surgery, would be tracking the developments Down Under. And the great Wasim Akram, who prised out England’s heart back then, will be commentating from a studio even while being caught up with his memoir Sultan, co-authored with Gideon Haigh.

Immediate form

Team huddle: Pakistan players are briefed on the roles they have to play.

Team huddle: Pakistan players are briefed on the roles they have to play. | Photo Credit: AFP

If the immediate form is a barometer, then both Pakistan and England seem equal. Their semifinal exploits that deflated New Zealand and India, reveal that the finalists have peaked at the right time. Much would depend on the opening thrust with England’s skipper Jos Buttler and Alex Hales and Pakistan captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan expected to fire the initial salvos.

Also Read | Winning T20 World Cup final could inspire English football team in World Cup: Buttler

The middle orders of the rival units have performed in fits and starts and Iftikhar Ahmed and Ben Stokes have to keep dishing out a good support act. However, England does bat deep and that offers some insurance against a Pakistani attack helmed by Shaheen Shah Afridi. It is also a pointer to the spread of the sub-continental diaspora that England has in its ranks Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid with their Pakistani roots.

A lot would hinge on which Pakistani team would turn up in terms of its performance traits that could either be a frustrating wallow in mediocrity or a glorious exposition of fearless cricket. England too can straddle the worlds of diffidence or dominance, evident through its progress to the final. With incisive speedsters, spinners capable of doing a holding job, and mercurial batters, the rivals mirror each other.

Eye on the weather

An eye would be kept on the weather too with dark clouds rolling in. Even if a liquid intermission is inevitable, a minimum of 10 overs per side is required to constitute a full match in the knockout stage. Plus there is a reserve day on Monday. With two strong outfits, moody skies and boisterous fans, you cannot ask for a more dramatic stage!

Sweating it out: England players warm up at the MCG.

Sweating it out: England players warm up at the MCG. | Photo Credit: AFP

The teams (from):

Pakistan: Babar Azam (Capt.), Shadab Khan (Vice-Capt.), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shan Masood.

England: Jos Buttler (Capt. & wk), Alex Hales, Harry Brook, Phil Salt, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran, Tymal Mills, Mark Wood, David Willey, Chris Jordan and Dawid Malan.

Umpires: Marais Erasmus and Kumar Dharmasena; TV umpire: Chris Gaffaney; Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle.

Match starts at 1.30 p.m. IST.

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