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Roberts recalls the great escape of 1975 over Pakistan
Richard Sydenham | March 13, 2007
West Indies and Pakistan will launch the ninth World Cup on Tuesday and one ex-West Indies great believes it is the biggest match between the teams in 32 years.
Fast bowler Andy Roberts was an unlikely match-winner with the bat in the 1975 World Cup when West Indies recovered from 203-9 to overhaul Pakistan's total of 266 at Birmingham.
Roberts was 24 not out and batted for 55 minutes as he put on 64 for the last wicket with wicketkeeper Deryck Murray, who was 61 not out from 76 deliveries.
It was a shattering defeat for Pakistan after they felt the match was as good as won with batting stars like Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd and Roy Fredericks all dismissed.
West Indies went on to win that inaugural World Cup.
"Years after that match, every time I went into bat against Pakistan they were always apprehensive, all the time," Roberts told Reuters.
"This is probably the biggest game since then, in a World Cup between the teams. I don't think we have had such an important game since that one.
"We beat them in the semi-finals in 1979 but 1975 was maybe a bigger game because of the psychological victory for us when they had the game in the bag."
The Sabina Park clash on Tuesday between Inzamam-ul-Haq's Pakistan side, winners in 1992, and Brian Lara's West Indies, who have not won since 1979, would struggle to match this 1975 clash for drama.
Roberts was an unrated number 11 batsman and few would have predicted what was to unfold when he came to the crease.
"We were struggling but at no stage did I think we would lose," Roberts said. "I always believed that as long as we were still in the match, whether batting or bowling, we could win.
"I never played cricket to lose.
"Pakistan helped us because they bowled their best bowler out -- Sarfraz. I think I only faced one ball from Sarfraz.
"I faced people like Asif Masood, (Pervez) Mir and Mushy (Mushtaq Mohammed).
"I was leading Deryck. He was the senior partner in age but I was the senior partner with what goes on in the field. I had the confidence and never thought we were going to lose."
Maybe one irony from that exciting clash is that two of the key men from the match are involved this time too.
Roberts is responsible for the playing surface as a World Cup pitch consultant.
One of the bowlers he helped defeat that day in Birmingham, Pervez Mir, is now the media officer for the Pakistan team.