Kuldeep Yadav became only the third Indian bowler in the history of one-day international (ODI) cricket to take a hat-trick. He got the hat-trick in the second match of the ongoing five-match ODI series against Australia. And there could have been no better venue than the historic Eden Gardens in Kolkata for the young Kuldeep to have achieved this feat.
By doing this, he became the 43rd bowler to take a hat-trick in the 46-year-long history of ODI cricket which started in 1971. Before Kuldeep, only two Indians had achieved this rare feat. Chetan Sharma was the first to take a hat-trick way back in the 1987 Reliance World Cup against New Zealand in Nagpur. In fact, he became the first bowler to take a hat-trick in any cricket format for India.
The second name in the list is no surprise – it was the great Kapil Dev. The 1983 World Cup-winning captain got his hat-trick in 1991 against Sri Lanka. Incidentally, the venue was Eden Gardens. This feat went unnoticed by many as the wickets weren’t taken in the same over. Two wickets were taken off the last two balls of an over while the third wicket was taken on the first ball of the next over.
Eden Gardens and hat-tricks seem to have a special relationship. In all formats of the game, only five Indian bowlers have taken hat-tricks – three in ODIs and two in Test matches. Of these five hat-tricks, three have come at Eden Gardens. The first one was taken by Kapil Dev; the second was taken by Harbhajan Singh in the epic 2001 Kolkata Test match where India defeated Australia after being made to follow on. This was the same match where VVS Laxman’s classic 281 became a watershed moment and a turning point in Indian cricket.
Harbhajan’s feat was the first for an Indian in Test cricket. Irfan Pathan was the second Indian to pull this off – against Pakistan in their home turf. Eden Gardens have indeed been a happy hunting ground for Indian bowlers. On all three occasions, India emerged victorious.
Hat-tricks are a rare feat in any format of cricket. Taking three wickets in three successive deliveries hasn’t been easier for the bowlers – and history has been witness to this fact. The players who achieve such feats often cement their place in their teams for a short while. However, such feats do not necessarily guarantee their places in the team for a long time – and this is especially true in the case of this Indian team. A recent example of this was witnessed when Karun Nair was shown the door even after he became only the second Indian to score a triple century in Test cricket (after Virender Sehwag).
With this performance, Kuldeep must have impressed the captain and selectors and has surely justified his selection for this crucial series. This young spinner is surely in the race for the place of a spinner in the 2019 World Cup. Though the tournament is still 18 months away, performances like these will only boost his confidence and help him grow as a bowler even further.