Although the defending world champions in the 1996 World Cup lost a knock-out match in the quarterfinals against archrivals India, this team surely deserved to play in the final because it was arguably the strongest side of the tournament.
They had the likes of Saeed Anwar and Aamir Sohail as the most solid openers followed by the most experienced and devastating middle-order.
This was comprised of hard-hitting one-down Ejaz Ahmad, powerful Inzamam-ul-Haq, Javed Miandad—the most successful batsman of the country, and very experienced Salim Malik and Ramiz Raja. Wasim Akram and Rashid Latif filled the space of ballistic hitters towards the death overs.
The bowling lineup had swing masters Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram accompanied by the pacy Aaqib Javed, with Mushtaq Ahmad and Saqlain Mushtaq to spin the opposition.
This team had the potential to lift the World Cup for the second time, but it wasn't meant to be. The loss of captain Wasim Akram and the temper of standing captain Aamir Sohail against Venkatesh Prasad in the crucial India-Pak encounter in the knock-out stage cost them the World Cup.
This defeat saw some of the most devastating scenes of anger and protest in Pakistan. Although they lost the World Cup, I still believe 1996 marked a golden era in Pakistan cricket as they had the strongest side and they played some outstanding cricket throughout the year.
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