On October 9, 1994, Damien Fleming became the third bowler to claim a hat-trick on debut at Rawalpindi. Sarang Bhalerao takes a look back at Fleming’s incredible feat.
A 24-year-old fast bowler from Australia was about to make his debut. A big moment, you would agree, but the tracks in Pakistan resemble the national highways. There is seldom any help for the bowlers; they are akin to a graveyard. The wicket at Rawalpindi was no different. Lots of challenges lied ahead of the 361st Test cricketer from Australia: Damien Fleming.
Australia captain Mark Taylor won an important toss and elected to bat first. The visitors put 521 on the board, powered by Michael Slater’s 110 and Steve Waugh’s 98. Skipper Taylor (58), Mark Waugh (68), Micheal Bevan (70) and Ian Healy (58) were the half-centurions. With runs on the board, the Australian bowlers bowled with a lot of fire. Craig McDermott (four for 74) and Fleming (four for 75) ran through the Pakistan batting order and bowled them out for 260.
In the first Test, Australia had let go of an opportunity to win as Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed put on an unbeaten stand of 67 to record a narrow one-wicket win. Pakistan had a humungous task to avoid defeat in the second Test. Australia had seven sessions to bowl at Pakistan, who were trailing by 261 runs.
The Australian fielding let them down badly. Pakistan skipper Saleem Malik got a reprieve on 20, dropped by his counterpart Taylor at first slip. Malik composed a rearguard action and batted for seven hours and 23 minutes to score 237. Wisden reported: “[Aamer] Sohail, put down by [Shane] Warne on nine and briefly retiring for stitches in a cut lip, helped him add 109 in just 99 minutes. Malik also shared century partnerships with Saeed Anwar and Aamer Malik. Having collapsed in five hours and 39 minutes to McDermott and Fleming in the first innings, Pakistan stubbornly resisted for ten and a half hours to ensure a draw.”
In the last two balls of the 23rd over, Fleming picked up Nazir and Inzamam. Nazir failed to keep the flick down. He was caught at mid-wicket by Bevan. Inzamam played across the line and was caught plumb in front. Fleming dismissed Malik on the first ball of his 24th over. The ball held its line and swung away just a tad to induce an edge off Malik’s bat. That was the 328th ball of his innings, a near unplayable ball on a flat surface.
Fleming thus became the third bowler in the history of cricket to pick up a hat-trick on debut. Jo Angel lifted Fleming up in ecstasy; it was a unique way to congratulate his mate. Fleming confirmed the event, on being asked about it by the writer on Twitter: “The mighty Joe Angel #WWEStyle.”
List of bowlers who took a hat-trick on their debut Test:
|1||Maurice Allom (England)||New Zealand||Christchurch||1929-30|
|2||Peter Petherick (New Zealand)||Pakistan||Lahore||1976-77|
|3||Damien Fleming (Australia)||Pakistan||Rawalpindi||1994-95|
“I felt a Sarfraz spell coming on, but unfortunately it stopped at three,” Wisden Almanack quoted Fleming as saying, who was referring to Sarfraz Nawaz’s extraordinary burst of seven for one at Melbourne in 1978-79.
What followed was bizarre. Slater and Taylor, the deadly opening duo, picked up their only Test wickets. Rashid Latif and Waqar Younis were associated with this ignominy.
Australia 521 (Michael Slater 110, Steve Waugh 98; Mohsin Kamal 3 for 109) and 14 for 1 (David Boon 7*; Waqar Younis 1 for 2) drew with Pakistan 260 (Aamer Sohail 80, Wasim Akram 45*; Craig McDermott 4 for 74, Damien Fleming 4 for 75) and 537 (Saleem Malik 237; Damien Fleming 3 for 86).
Man of the Match: Saleem Malik
(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)