With the 2019 edition of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup set to begin on May 30, we look back at the most memorable moments from the tournament’s four-decade-long history. You can read the entire series here.
Moment No 13
“As a fast bowler you don’t even dream of a hat-trick. You dream of five wickets, you dream of 10 wickets but you don’t dream of a hat-trick. Getting a hat-trick there ... I couldn’t believe myself.”
– Chetan Sharma to ICC
Not just Sharma, many who watched the match or read about it later could not quite believe the turn of events on the day of the first hat-trick in World Cup history.
The year was 1987, the World Cup was played in the Indian subcontinent for the first time and Kapil Dev’s India were the defending champions. India were already assured of a semi-final berth, having won four of their first five matches.
But if they didn’t top the table, they would be playing Pakistan in the semi-finals... in Pakistan. The other option was beating New Zealand by a good margin and setting up a semi-final at home against England.
India went on to do just that, before they lost to England in the semis who lost to Australia in the final.
But before the disappointment of the home World Cup, there was one shining moment for India in a match that saw two important firsts – the first World Cup hat-trick, taken by Chetan Sharma, and Sunil Gavaskar’s first (and only) ODI century.
The batting great’s smashing 88-ball 103, which was both unusual and enthralling, got India through well within the required overs to top the group. However, it was the unexpected, all-bowled, all-three-stumps-falling hat-trick from the Indian pacer that stole the show before the chase.
After Jeff Crowe opted to bat, New Zealand were relatively comfortably placed at 182/5 after 41 overs. Dipak Patel, the eventual top-scorer, was dismissed on 40 and Martin Snedden came in.
The first Indian hat-trick
That’s when Kapil Dev brought Chetan Sharma back, instead of Manoj Prabhakar. Sharma had not taken a wicket in his five overs till then, but he was India’s best death bowlers with that extra bit of pace. It also helped that he had a good understanding with Haryana captain Kapil Dev.
But there was more to it. A year before, he had infamously conceded a last-ball six to Javed Miandad in the Austral-Asia Cup final against Pakistan. That cast him as a villain for a long time in the eyes of Indian fans.
In Nagpur on October 31, 1987, it was almost a redemption story. Bowling his sixth and the innings’ 42nd over, Sharma scripted history by becoming the first Indian to claim a hat-trick.
New Zealand’s No 4 batsman Ken Rutherford, who had faced 53 balls for his 26 so far, had played the first three deliveries of the over.
On the fourth delivery, he lost his middle stump. Going for a cross-batted shot to the off-cutter and the ball sneaked through the gap between bat and pad.
Then came wicketkeeper-batsman Ian Smith. He was done in by a yorker and off went his off-stump.
Two balls, two wickets. Could Sharma do it?
He had a long chat with Kapil Dev before the hat-trick ball.
Ewen Chatfield walked in with a visor on. Not a common sight on Nagpur pitch, but Sharma seemed to be getting some pace. He missed the line completely and his leg-stump went flying.
Three balls, three wickets, three batsmen bowled. Only the third hat-trick in ODI cricket.
Sharma, who was already ecstatic after his second wicket ran towards keeper Chandrakant Pandit and sank on his knees.
“I never expected that on a wicket like Nagpur he would come with a visor on. Kapil paaji said to me, ‘He is scared. Just bowl a straight one.’ And he said we can still make it. It went through the legs and after that, as everyone could see, I went half-mad there!” he said about the moment.
New Zealand eventually made 221/9 and India had to chase it in 42.2 overs to top the group. But there were more fireworks to come from the hosts as yet.
Kris Srikanth smashed 75 from 58 balls while Sunil Gavaskar, he of the infamous 36 runs from 174 deliveries at the 1975 World Cup, scored his only ODI ton in 85 balls. India reached the target in only 32.1 overs, winning by nine wickets.
You can relive the moment here