Chetan Sharma took the first ever hat-trick in World Cup : At 5’3” not many held a good impression about Chetan Sharma being a pace bowler. However, he proved everybody wrong with his sheer pace and variation that kept most of the batsmen, guessing, so much so, that he was ‘billed’ to be the ‘Kapil Dev in the making.’
This nephew of the former India cricketer, Yashpal Sharma, who made his ODI debut at the age of 17 had, by the end of his career, featured in 65 games and picked up 67 wickets at an average of 34.86 and an economy rate 4.94 with 3/22 being his best performance.
Sharma was also a very useful batsman, down the order, and had aggregated 456 runs from 35 ODI innings at an average of 24.00 with an unbeaten 101* as his best contribution.
Sent in to bat at No 4 in the 9th game of the MRF (World Series) Nehru Cup, 1989, against England, played in Green Park, Kanpur, Chetan produced the best innings of his career.
Chasing 256 for a victory, India were 65 runs for the loss of Raman Lamba (16) and skipper Srikkanth (32), when Chetan walked into join Navjot Singh Sidhu in the middle.
The pair added 105 runs for the third wicket, when Sidhu departed scoring a very valuable 61 runs. Then Chetan continued the onslaught in the company of Dilip Vengsarkar (31) and the duo put on 81-run partnership for the fourth-wicket, taking India within striking distance of victory.
Chetan, who was ‘on a song’, went on to finish the game and led India to a six-wicket victory with 11 balls to spare.
For his wonderful innings of an unbeaten 101* runs off just 96 deliveries, studded with 8 fours and a six, scored at a strike rate of 105.20, he was awarded the Player of the Match.
This, however, was his only 50+ score in international cricket.
However, the high point in his career was the hat-trick that he claimed in the 24th game of the Reliance Word Cup played against New Zealand on 31st October, 1987, at Vidharbha Cricket Association, Nagpur.
Electing to bat the Kiwis were going strong. Ken Rutherford and Deepak Patel put on a solid 59 runs partnership for the fifth wicket, when Patel was dismissed after scoring 40 runs off 51 deliveries. Kiwis were 181 runs for the loss of 4 wickets then.
It is at this stage that Chetan produced one of the best spells, accounting for Ken Rutherford (26), skipper Ian Smith (0) and Evan Chatfield (0) in three successive deliveries to reduce the Black Caps to a position of 182 runs for the loss of 8 wickets.
Chetan had created a new record by becoming the first ever bowler to claim a HAT-TRICK in a Word Cup encounter.
Subsequently, chasing a target of 222 runs, India, with an exemplary batting display by the openers, Krishnamachari Srikkanth (75, 58b, 9*4, 3*6), Sunil Gavaskar (103*, 88b, 10*4, 3*6) and Mohammad Azharuddin (41*, 51b, 5*4) went on to win the game convincingly by 9 wickets with 107 balls remaining.
Incidentally this score of 103* runs was Gavaskar’s maiden (and the only) ODI century.
For their splendid efforts with the ball and later on with the bat, Chetan Sharma and Sunil Gavaskar shared the Player of the match award.
This is how the first-ever hat-trick in World Cup was registered.
Chetan also represented India in 23 Test matches, picking up 61 wickets (from 39 innings) at an average of 35.45 and an economy rate of 3.74 with 6/58 and 10/188 being his best performance in an innings and a match respectively. He is also credited with four ‘5-wicket’ hauls and one ‘10-wicket’ haul.
Sharma is mostly remembered for his ‘suicidal’ final delivery to Javed Miandad in the ‘title clash’ of the Austral Asia Cup 1986 at Sharjah in which Miandad scored a huge six and won the game for Pakistan.
However, the interesting fact is Chetan played alongside his uncle Yashpal Sharma in two ODI encounters.
They both featured in the First and the Final clashes against