India's Mohammad Shami celebrates his hat-trick
India's Mohammad Shami celebrates his hat-trick after dismissing Afghanistan's Mujeeb Ur Rahman during the World Cup match at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton, on Saturday. Image Credit: Reuters

Southampton: It was a dream last over from Mohammad Shami, who became the first Indian bowler 32 years after Chetan Sharma to take a hat-trick in the World Cup at the Hampshire Bowl on Saturday.

For Shami, it was a relief on many counts. He had a traumatic last year with his wife Hasin Jahan lodging a complaint against him for adultery, conspiracy for murder, rape as well as allegations of match-fixing. The Board of Control for Cricket in India even withheld Shami’s central contract till the Anti Corruption Unit (ACU) cleared him of corruption charges. The Bengal pace bowler then focused on cricket more than ever before, especially trying to get fitter and come out of the phase that almost ruined his career.

After the hat-trick, he revealed how he had turned around his life and was rewarded for his hard work. He fully utilised the opportunity of coming into the team replacing an injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the Afghanistan match. “As far as getting a chance is concerned, that depends on your luck. I was hoping to get a chance and be able to show my skill and as far as the hat-trick is concerned, I am extremely happy. I am grateful to God for that. It’s rare to get a World Cup hat-trick, so I am very thrilled.”

While describing how he got his three wickets in succession, he thanked Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the guidance from behind the wickets, especially the third one. “There was nothing to think as 16 runs were needed off six balls and we had to execute our plans. Also, not too many options were available at that moment. The more variations you try out, greater are the chances of you going for runs. But in my mind I felt that I must execute my plans, no matter what the batsman tries to do.

“The only option for me was to bowl a yorker on to the stumps. Mahi bhai (Dhoni) also said the same thing, don’t try to change anything. You have a great chance of getting a hat-trick, such chances are very rare, you have to do the same thing, he told me. I did that and it worked. I got the hat-trick.”

Shami then revealed the secret of transition in him and how he focused on his fitness by training with the Indian team’s strength and conditioning trainer Shankar Basu. When Afghanistan had come to play in India for a one-off Test last year, Shami was not picked into the team because he had failed the fitness test. “I was a little heavy after the injury and I could feel the heaviness. I had a knee surgery. I knew that if I wanted to play for long, if I wanted to stay in cricket, then I had to do something extra. I had to cut down on my diet. I don’t follow a strict diet, but I try and follow the doctor’s advice in terms of what I should eat and what I should not. It also works well for me that I don’t eat sweets and breads. And during a match, one needs to be very calm.”

Was he nervous when Afghanistan were closing in on the target? Shami surprised everyone by saying that he wasn’t nervous, but irritated. “Nabi was batting well and I was getting irritated but I decided not to express it before the batsman. I knew that if Nabi gets out, the match is ours. He was the only batsman who could build their innings, who could score and he was truly troubling us. But it is important not to show your weakness or your doubts. At the same time we need to be aggressive, show the opponent that we are in control. The plan was to just go and show that intent.”

At the end of the day, Shami was a happy man that his skills and ability to control his emotions were amply rewarded.

Hat Tricks in Cricket World Cup
1987: Chetan Sharma, India vs. New Zealand, Nagpur
1999: Saqlain Mushtaq, Pakistan vs. Zimbabwe, London
2003: Chaminda Vaas, Sri Lanka vs. Bangladesh, Pietermaritzburg
2003: Brett Lee, Australia vs. Kenya, Durban
2007: Lasith Malinga (4 in 4), Sri Lanka vs. South Africa, Guyana
2011: Kemar Roach, West Indies vs. Netherlands, New Delhi
2011: Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka vs. Kenya, Colombo
2015: Steven Finn, England vs. Australia, Melbourne
2015: JP Duminy, South Africa vs. Sri Lanka, Sydney
2019: Mohammed Shami, India vs. Afghanistan, Southampton

- AP