India vs New Zealand, Reliance World Cup, VCA Ground, Nagpur, October 31, 1987
India won by 9 wickets
Chetan Sharma didn’t quite set the 1987 World Cup on fire. He wasn’t part of the playing eleven for India’s first three group games and when he did get to play in the return group games, he hardly did anything of significance.
And the stakes were indeed high for India’s last league game against New Zealand at Nagpur - a match India needed to win at a faster run rate if they were to nose ahead of Australia and skirt a semifinal face-off with Pakistan.
Chetan came in as first change after Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar shared the new ball. His opening spell was far from incisive. New Zealand batsmen were slowly and surely building themselves for the final assault, having progressed to 182 for 5 in 41 overs.
Kapil brought Chetan into the attack in the 42nd over and the wiry lad kept things tight, bowling three dot-balls to Ken Rutherford, who looked pretty much at ease with a 28-ball 23. Chetan produced a sharp in-cutter off the next ball which brooked no answer from Rutherford and messed up the furniture behind. The dismissal of Rutherford was a frustrating tale of yet another Kiwi batsmen getting a start and not going on to get a substantial score.
Chetan had his tails up when he bowled the next ball to wicketkeeper Ian Smith. He pitched one that jagged back sharply and also kept low cleaning Smith up.
The Nagpur crowd sensed a hat-trick. The cheers in the stands got louder. Chetan had a long word with skipper.
Kapil Dev and ran in to bowl the final ball of the 42 over to Ewen Chattfield. He bowled one that was a lot fuller than the earlier two balls to which Chattfield shuffled across only to see the ball get behind his legs and hit the stumps. The VCA ground erupted!
Chetan became the first bowler in the history of World Cup to achieve a hat-trick. He finished with figures of 3 for 51 from his 10 overs. His feat went a long way in India restricting New Zealand to a score of 221. Else, the Kiwis could have ran up a score in excess of 250 which would have been quite an ask for India to chase, that too at a run rate of 5.25 per over.
Sunil Gavaskar ensured an Indian victory by scoring his first-ever ODI hundred in blazing fashion that even overshadowed his opening partner, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, famed for his aggressive strokeplay. Gavaskar’s unbeaten 103 came off just 88 balls and was studded with three sixes and 10 fours. But fittingly, the Man of the Match Award was shared by both Chetan and Gavaskar.