Rex Clementine, Island, 22 December 201o
A hat-trick in cricket is a rare phenomenon that it has happened only on 27 times in ODI cricket. Even though Test cricket has been played for over hundred years, the longer form of the game has seen only 38 such instances. Sri Lankan fans had an opportunity to see a hat-trick being recorded this year when Farveez Maharoof ran through India’s lower middle order in Dambulla and his was the first on Sri Lankan soil since Chaminda Vaas’ effort against Zimbabwe at SSC in 2001. Overall, there have been just two hat-tricks recorded in Sri Lanka with the first such effort coming from Pakistani all-rounder Abdul Razzaq, who achieved the feat in Galle in 2000 in a Test Match when he dismissed Romesh Kaluwitharana, Rangana Herath and Nuwan Zoysa in successive balls in Sri Lanka’s first innings of the second Test.
Then Chaminda Vaas achieved a hat-trick in an ODI against Heath Streak’s Zimbabwe followed by Lasith Malinga six years later during a stunning spell where he did even better by claiming four wickets in four balls in a World Cup game against South Africa in Guyana that Sri Lanka almost won. Vaas also claimed a hat-trick in a World Cup game against Bangladesh in Pietermaritzburg in 2003. This hat-trick was unique as it was recorded off the first three balls of the match.
On June 20th this year, Maharoof joined the two illustrious Sri Lankan cricketers becoming the third man to take a hat-trick (Nuwan Zoysa is the only Sri Lankan to take a hat-trick in Test cricket) when he performed the feat against India in Dambulla during the Asia Cup.
Sri Lanka had long prayed for a fast bowling all-rounder, a component successive Sri Lankan coaches felt will serve the team well particularly when they travel overseas playing in conditions which suit fast bowlers. Farveez Maharoof had been long earmarked as a future Sri Lankan prospect while at schools and he graduated to the national side immediately from school when he was chosen to play in Zimbabwe.
He had progressed smoothly before he began to be down with injuries, particularly in between or during some of Sri Lanka’s crucial campaigns. Around the same time Angelo Mathews emerged and it looked as if Mathews, another Sri Lanka under-19 captain, had more to offer than Maharoof forcing the former Wesleyite out of the side.
Then the arrival of Thissara Perera, another fast bowling all-rounder, pushed him completely out of the radar and his selection to the Asia Cup squad this year came as a massive surprise. He had played his last ODI more than a year ago and hadn’t done anything startling to regain his place in the side.
The selectors were asked about the thinking behind and journalists were told that Maharoof was ideally suited for conditions in Dambulla. His comeback was against Pakistan, a game that Sri Lanka won comfortably, but Maharoof contributed just one run with the bat and failed to pick up a wicket.
But he was a revelation when he played the game against India a week later. Sri Lanka had opted to field first, but India didn’t encounter many problems as they reached 189 for four with still 12 overs left. There was a sudden slump and it all started with the run out of captain M.S. Dhoni who was dismissed in the last ball of the 38th over when Chamara Kapugedara was successful with a direct hit.
Maharoof then came on for the second over of his new spell and got going immediately by having Ravindra Jadeja in trouble when the batsman walked across and was trapped leg before wicket. Then next man in Praveen Kumar dragged one onto the stumps to put him on a hat-trick. The game was witnessed by a fairly big crowd and as Zaheer Khan faced the hat-trick ball there was quite an expectation and the prayers were answered when he edged one to Kumar Sangakkara and Maharoof went berserk.
As Maharoof completed the hat-trick it seemed as if the selectors had been spot on saying that he was ideally suited for conditions at Dambulla. He went onto complete a five wicket haul, only the second time he had taken five wickets or more in an ODI and was named Man of the Match. India lost four wickets in four balls and slumped from 189 for four to 189 for eight and were bowled out for 209 in 42.3 overs. Sri Lanka had no trouble in chasing the target and got home with seven wickets and more than 12 overs to spare.
“It’s something that I didn’t plan. I am really happy with what I have done. This particular venue suits my style of bowling. It was one of those days where all what I did went perfectly well and hopefully, I’d be able to keep that up in times to come,” Maharoof said speaking to journalists after the game.
“There was not much of assistance from the wicket. I just bowled a good length. It was one of those days where it just happens for you. For example, that hat-trick ball, I thought I would bowl there and I bowled and it just happened. Day time it doesn’t do much but it does help bowlers under lights,” he added.
Captain Kumar Sangakkara reminded that preparation is extremely vital for an international cricketer when he said, “Farveez, over the last 18 months has realised that nothing comes easy. You have to work hard and if someone’s working harder than you, you’ve got to match that, not just on the field, off the field as well. Training and preparation is the key.”
Although he did well in that particular game, the final was a disappointment for Maharoof as much as for Sri Lanka as he failed to take a wicket and contributed with just ten runs with the bat. Fielding has never been his forte and once again he came up with a poor effort on the field in the final. Although the selectors said that the conditions at Dambulla ideally suited him, he was overlooked for the tri-nation ODI competition that involved New Zealand and India following the Asia Cup at the same venue.