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SK Flashback: Vaas knocks up four first up in the 2003 World Cup

ANALYST
Feature
Timeless

Sometimes a match can be virtually over in the very first over. Here was one remarkable instance which occurred in the 2003 World Cup.

Chaminda Vaas bowled a devastating first over.
Chaminda Vaas bowled a devastating first over.

Chaminda Vaas was prone to pulling off a dazzling performance every now and then. Just the previous season he had rocked the Zimbabweans at Colombo with a record One-day International haul of eight for 19, inclusive of a hat-trick. Vaas was up to his tricks once again here at the Pietermaritzburg Oval.

Taking advantage of a slightly damp pitch, the paceman sent a buzz around the pretty ground with a wicket off the first ball. He bowled Hannan Sarkar through the gate as the Bangladesh opener tried to essay a cover drive to an in-swinger before getting his eye in. It was a record fifth instance for Vaas to pick up a wicket off the first delivery of a One-day International, being one up on Wasim Akram now.  

Next ball, the perplexed newcomer Mohammad Ashraful only managed to lob a catch back to the agile Vaas. Never before had there been such a sensational start to a World Cup fixture. Could there be a hat-trick off the first three balls of the match? As always in situations like this, the field closed in, breathing down the neck of the hapless new batsman Ehsanul Haque. Would the left-arm angle the ball away from over-the-wicket or straighten it? Haque simply fished, unable to comprehend that the ball was going across him. It flicked the outer edge of the probing bat and flew straight into the lap of a jubilant Mahela Jayawardene at second slip. Vaas had completed an incredible hat-trick, unprecedented for the opening over of a match. It was the third hat-trick in the World Cup, emulating the exploits of India’s Chetan Sharma in 1987 and Pakistan’s Saqlain Mushtaq in 1999.  

There was more excitement to follow. Number five batsman Sanwar Hossain must have felt that the best policy was to hit his way out of trouble, for he straightaway drove through the covers into an advertiser’s hoarding. Vaas next delivered a wide, and then swung the fifth legitimate delivery into the right-hander. Sanwar was plumb in front. The score stood at 5 for four wickets. The last ball was remarkably uneventful. It was a sensational over, ignominy for a Bangladesh side slipping from one disaster to another, and ecstasy for the 29-year-old seamer with a graph of accomplishments still climbing higher. Latecomers to the match must have been perplexed as opener Mohammad Al Shariar took strike after the no.6 batsman had already faced a ball. 

It was Al Shahriar’s misfortune to be Vaas’ fifth victim as he holed out to Aravinda de Silva at mid-off. The score slid to 25 for five. Finally, as tailender Mashrafe Mortaza used the long handle, Vaas had him caught by Muttiah Muralitharan off the first ball of his tenth over. Vaas’ six for 25 was now Sri Lanka’s best analysis in the World Cup surpassing paceman Asantha de Mel’s five for 32 against New Zealand in 1983. He also became his country’s highest wicket-taker in the mega event, overtaking de Mel and Muralitharan. To be a worthy comrade-in-arms to the great Muralitharan over a long period is no mean feat. But to put the peerless off-spinner in the shade, even if once in a while, is an even greater achievement for the lion-hearted Vaas. This was one such day. Vaas had created history.

Bangladesh 124 all out (31.1 overs), Sri Lanka 126 for no loss (21.1 overs) (CWC 2003)

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