Pakistan’s hat-trick heroes in international cricket

June 13, 2021

It is interesting to note that of the ten Pakistani bowlers to take a hat-trick, only one is a spinner while the other nine are all pacemen. Wasim Akram is the only left-armer in this Pakistani list.

The hat-trick is a term used in cricket for a bowler getting three dismissals on consecutive balls. Its origin goes back to 1858, and is attributed to a bowler called HH Stephenson who was playing for an All-England side against a Hallam team at the Hyde Park ground in Sheffield. When he achieved this unusual distinction, his fans organised a collection for him after the match and from the proceeds bought him a hat as a gift. Hence the presence of the word hat in this phrase. It was considered an extraordinary accomplishment and the term trick was probably added to this expression to compare it to the amazing feats performed by magicians, like pulling rabbits out of a hat. The final word hat-trick was thus born and over time it has subsequently been incorporated into other sports as well, like football and hockey, besides being generally used in the English language as a terminology for three successive positive achievements.A total of 106 hat-tricks have been taken in international cricket so far, 45 in Test matches, 47 in ODIs and 14 in T20s. Australian bowlers have done it 19 times, English bowlers on 18 occasions and Pakistani bowlers take third place with 15. Sri Lanka with 14 hat-tricks is the only other country in double digits. The list also includes two non-Test playing countries.

Pakistan’s 15 hat tricks in international matches have been shared between ten bowlers. Wasim Akram heads the list with four hat-tricks, while Mohammad Sami and Saqlain Mushtaq have two hat-tricks per piece. The remaining seven bowlers each have one international hat-trick to their credit.

The 15 Pakistani hat-tricks consist of 5 in Test matches, 8 in ODIs and 2 in T20s. The eight ODI hat-tricks are the highest in this form of the game, a record that Pakistan shares with Sri Lanka.

Wasim Akram was a complete and consummate bowler. His first two hat-tricks both came in ODIs at Sharjah. In October 1989, West Indies chasing a Pakistan total of 250 were well placed at 209 for 5 when Akram, in an inspired spell of bowling, clean bowled Jeff Dujon, Malcolm Marshall and Curtly Ambrose in successive balls to record his first international hat-trick. West Indies were dismissed for 239, losing by 11 runs. In May of the following year, in the final of the Austral-Asia Cup at Sharjah, Australia were on 230 for 7 after Pakistan had scored 266 in their 50 overs. Wasim brought the Australian innings to a quick close as he clean bowled Merv Hughes, Carl Rackemann and Terry Alderman, with the third, fourth and fifth deliveries of his ninth over, for his second hat-trick on this ground. All six victims of his two Sharjah hat-tricks were clean bowled.

Almost a decade later in the Asian Test Championship match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, at Lahore in March 1999, the visitors were 320 for 6 in their first innings in reply to Pakistan’s total of 398. Kaluwitharana had just completed a sparkling century off merely 143 balls, when Wasim had him caught behind by Moin Khan of the first ball of his ninth over. He then clean bowled Bandaratilleke and Wickramasinghe with the next two deliveries to complete his first Test hat-trick and the third of his international career. He also became the first bowler to take a hat-trick in both Tests and ODIs.

A week later the two teams met again in the final of the championship at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka. Pakistan’s massive score 594 had given them a first innings lead of 363 runs. Wasim opened the bowling in Sri Lanka’s second knock. With the fifth delivery of his opening over he had Gunawardene caught by Shahid Afridi for a duck. The night watchman Chaminda Vaas was bowled off the first delivery he faced, leaving Wasim on the verge of another hat-trick, which he duly completed with the first ball of his next over by having Mahela Jawawardene caught by Wajahatullah Wasti in the slips for a single.

Wasim became the first bowler to take hat-tricks in successive Tests. He was also the first bowler in cricket history to take a hat-trick in both ODIs and Tests and in fact created an additional record by becoming the only bowler ever to achieve this not once but twice, in each of these formats, a record that is unmatched even today.

Mohammad Sami had burst on the international cricket scene as a fast bowler with exceptional speed. Hailed by Imran as the modern Malcolm Marshall, Sami had a skiddy action and consistently generated speeds over over 150 km per hour.

The year 2002 was an auspicious one for Sami. Less than 10 days before his 21st birthday he took a hat-trick against the West Indies at an ODI in Sharjah. After trapping the West Indian wicket keeper Ridley Jacobs lbw, he clean bowled Corey Colleymore and Cameron Cuffy with his next two deliveries. A month later he went a step further with a hat-trick in only his third Test match. This was in the final of the Asian Test Championship against Sri Lanka at Lahore in March 2002. In a massive Sri Lankan first innings total of 528, Sami’s hat-trick was the only redeeming feature of Pakistan’s bowling. He had Fernando and Zoysa lbw before clean bowling Muralitharan to end the Sri Lankan innings.

Sami had become the second bowler in cricket history, after Wasim Akram, to get a hat-trick in both Tests and ODIs, a record that is still owned exclusively by these two Pakistani pacemen. He was barely twenty one years old at the time.

Saqlain is the third Pakistani bowler with two or more international hat-tricks. Both of them came in ODIs. In November 1996, against Zimbabwe in Peshawar, Saqlain using both orthodox off spin and the doosra, had Grant Flower and John Rennie caught behind by Moin Khan off the third and fourth deliveries of his fifth over, and Andrew Whittall snapped by Saleem Malik off the next ball to complete a hat-trick. Matambanadzo survived the final delivery of the over, but Saqlain’s first ball of his sixth over, accounted for the younger Rennie brother Gavin, giving Saqlain four wickets in five balls.

Three years later in a World Cup match at the Oval in June 1999, Saqlain got his second international hat-trick and the opponents were again Zimbabwe. He dismissed Henry Olanga, Adam Huckle and Mbangwa on the first three balls of his sixth over. Interestingly the first two victims were both stumped by Moin Khan, the highest number of stumpings ever in an international match hat-trick.

The remaining seven Pakistani hat-trick takers have all done so once. In Tests, apart from Wasim and Sami, the hat-trick takers are Abdul Razzaq and Naseem Shah. Razzaq achieved the feat at Galle, versus Sri Lanka in 2000. He dismissed Kaluwitharana, Herath and Pushpakumara in the Sri Lankan first innings. Kaluwitharana earned the dubious distinction of being a hat-trick victim for the second time in a Test match, having suffered the same fate the previous year off Wasim Akram’s bowling.

Naseem Shah’s hat-trick came against Bangladesh at Rawalpindi in February 2020, his victims being Nazmul Islam Shanto, Taj ul Islam and Mahmudullah. Naseem was six days short of his seventeenth birthday at the time.

Jalaluddin, Aaqib Javed and Waqar Younis have all taken hat-tricks in ODIs. Jalaluddin performed this feat as far back as September 1982, against Australia at Peshawar, his victims being Rodney Marsh, Bruce Yardley and Geoff Lawson. Jalaluddin’s hat-trick was the first ever in ODI history and also the first by a Pakistani bowler in an international match.

Aaqib is the only Pakistani with an international hat-trick against India to his credit. He performed this feat at Sharjah in October 1991. Ravi Shastri, Mohammad Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar were his three victims and all were trapped lbw. This is the only all-lbw hat-trick in international cricket history and it was part of a sensational 7 for 37 haul by Aqib, equaling the West Indian Winston Davis for the highest number of wickets in an ODI innings until then.

Waqar Younis got his ODI hat-trick versus New Zealand in 1994, and his victims were Chris Harris, Chris Pringle and Richard de Groen. All three were clean bowled.

Two Pakistani bowlers have the honor of taking hat-tricks in T20 Internationals. Faheem Ashraf was the first to do so against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi in October 2017. He dismissed Datsun Shanaka, Isuru Udana and Mahela Udawatte.

Mohammad Hasnain performed this feat in October 2019 at Lahore. The opponents were again Sri Lanka and he dismissed Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Datsun Shanaka and Galpage Jayasuriya to reach his hat-trick. Shanaka befell this fate for the second time against Pakistan in a T20 international.

It is interesting to note that of the ten Pakistani bowlers to take a hat-trick, only one is a spinner while the other nine are all pacemen. Wasim Akram is the only left-armer in this Pakistani list.

The youngest hat-trick takers in all 3 formats of the international game are all Pakistanis. Naseem Shah is the youngest to do so in Tests having achieved this landmark at the age of just 16 years and 359 days. Aaqib Javed is the youngest hat-trick taker in ODIs, at 19 years and 81 days old, while the T20 international record for the youngest hat-trick is held by Mohammad Hasnain, who was aged 19 years and 183 days when he got this distinction.

As a post script, there is one other Pakistani hat-trick hero whose name deserves mention. Amin Lakhani did not achieve this feat in an international match, but he did secure it against a visiting national team. A 19 year old left-arm spinner, he was playing for a combined Universities and Young Pakistan team, in a first class match at Multan, against the visiting Indian team of 1978. He took a hat-trick in each Indian innings and all six of his victims were Test players, namely Ghavri, Venkataraghavan, Reddy, Mohinder Amarnath, Kirmani and Kapil Dev. Despite taking 12 wickets in the match, including 6 in each innings, Amin never made it to the national team.

Dr Salman Faridi is a senior surgeon, poet, sports aficionado and an avid reader with a private collection of over 7000 books.

[email protected]

Pakistan’s hat-trick heroes in international cricket