Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Saqlain Mushtaq bags 2nd hat-trick in World Cup history
June 11, 1999 - HK Olonga st Moin Khan, AG Huckle st Moin Khan, M Mbangwa lbw - Saqlain Mushtaq bagged the 2nd ever hat-trick in a World Cup and became only the 2nd player to take a hat-trick twice in ODIs after compatriot Wasim Akram.
Having made his ODI debut in 1995, Saqlain Mushtaq had established himself in the Pakistan side by the time the 1999 World Cup arrived. By then, he had a couple of fifers and several 4-fers, having proved his mettle across formats and around the world.
Zimbabwe were on song in the world event, having kick-started their campaign with a five-wicket victory over Kenya. They went on to upset India and South Africa to qualify for the super six stage.
Pakistan, being the strongest team of the tournament alongside South Africa, defeated West Indies and followed it up with a 94-run victory over Scotland and a 10-run win against Australia. With a win against New Zealand by 62 runs, the team qualified for the Super Sixes despite defeats against South Africa and India.
Saeed Anwar was a handful for the Zimbabwe bowlers as he scored an eye-catching century, after a 95-run partnership with fellow opening batsman Wajahatullah Wasti. The team slowed down in the middle overs and despite a few solid hits from Shahid Afridi towards the end, they finished at 271 for 9 from their 50 overs. Although the score was considerably short of the 300-run mark, as it appeared to be heading towards, it was good enough to keep Zimbabwe in check.
Zimbabwe's go-to man Neil Johnson, who had removed Australian openers in the last match, was declared unfit to bowl and was playing the game as a pure batsman. Johnson's 54 off 94 deliveries included some glorious shots.
But a quick opening burst from Shoaib Akhtar and three strikes in quick succession from first-change bowler Abdul Razzaq broke the back of the Zimbabwe batting line-up. Heath Streak and Henry Olonga then tried to bat out the 50 overs. The duo ensured that Zimbabwe did not lose any wicket between the 34th and the 40th over.
As Saqlain Mushtaq arrived to deliver the 41st over, his skill and variations were too much for Olonga to tackle. He tried to step out on the first ball of the over but failed to reach the pitch of the delivery. Unfortunately for him, the batsman couldn't make the crease back and was stumped by wicketkeeper Moin Khan.
Not learning from Olonga's mistake, on the very next ball, Adam Huckle tried to do exactly that and the result was the same. With the score at 123, Mushtaq was now on a hat-trick.
The offie had already taken a hat-trick against Zimbabwe three years ago in 1996 at Peshawar, dismissing Grant Flower, John Rennie and Andy Whittall on consecutive deliveries. This was his opportunity to bag his second hat-trick and the second-ever in World Cups after Chetan Sharma picked up World Cup's maiden hat-trick in 1987.
On the receiving end was Pommie Mbangwa, who finished with an ODI average of 4.86 and a Test average of 2.0! In 15 Test matches, the bowler never managed a double-digit score. You can only imagine how inept he was to face Mushtaq's wizardry.
Wasim Akram, the Pakistan skipper, gave Mushtaq the best chance of pocketing the hat-trick with a slip, a gully, a silly point, a forward short leg and a leg slip firmly in place.
Pommy tried to defend but was wrapped on the pads and the dreaded finger of Steve Bucknor went up. The spinner became only the second bowler after Wasim Akram to pick up two hat-tricks in ODIs.
Mushtaq finds himself in the elite company of Wasim Akram, Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga who have picked up more than one hat-trick in ODIs. Not only that, Saqlain remains the only bowler to take two ODI hat-tricks against the same opposition.
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