Even after 140 years since the inception of the game, a hat-trick in cricket seems to hold a special place of its own. The slam-bang T20 format might have made bats broader and boundaries smaller, but the value of three wickets in three consecutive balls is still a rare feat, and a celebrated one.
The IPL has seen 17 hat-tricks over the course of ten editions, the latest being from Rising Pune Supergiant’s Jaydev Unadkat. The 17th one, however, can actually be credited to a 12-year old, whose words of wisdom inspired Unadkat to achieve the coveted feat.
Young Omkar Pawar is a student in the Apang Kalyankari Shikshan Sanstha (APSS) in Pune, and is one of the many students who got to meet Unadkat and his teammates, Steve Smith and Faf du Plessis, on 28th April, about a week before Unadkat took the hat-trick.
Before the event, organised by the Mukul Madhav Foundation, Finolex Pipes and Gulf in Pune, the students of the school were asked to record their messages for the team members. Omkar did not shy away from sharing some clever advice with Unadkat. APSS is an organisation working towards the education of specially-abled children in the city and is supported by Finolex Industries Ltd. and Mukul Madhav Foundation.
In a video shared by Unadkat on his Instagram handle, the kid asks the left-arm pacer to bowl cross-seam deliveries to get more wickets, and eventually, a hat-trick.
He had little idea that the Pune trio were close by, and listening to each and every suggestion intently. They surprised the kids by reaching their school later, and replayed the message-videos in front of them.
After Omkar’s video was played, Unadkat called him on stage and playfully asked him whether he would want the Pune bowler to bowl cross-seam deliveries, and got a positive response from the 12-year old.
And, a week later, he ended up taking a hat-trick against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, bowling the same cross-seam deliveries that were suggested by the enthusiastic young fan.
Unadkat became the third bowler after Lasith Malinga and Samuel Badree to bowl a hat-trick maiden in the IPL. Bowling the final over, with Hyderabad needing 13 off the last six, Unadkat held his nerve to pick up the wickets of Bipul Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan. Unadkat is currently third in the Purple cap list for this season, having already taken 17 wickets from eight games, and has been cleverly employing the off-cutters to good effect in the death overs.
That evening, an IPL sensation took a hat-trick, and a young boy’s wish was fulfilled.
You can watch the entire episode unfold here: