Chetan Sharma was always an interesting character on the field. A tiny, bearded, dynamo of a paceman, he could surprise batsmen with his deceptive speed, no mean feat for a man of such slight build. He was not one to hide his emotions either, and his theatrical, strident and shrill appeals were invariably cause for mirth among the spectators.
Thus when a man like Chetan Sharma achieves a hat-trick, and that too in the World Cup before a capacity home crowd, the scene can well be imagined. The crowd went berserk as Sharma lay spread-eagled on his back in sheer ecstasy, and his teammates ran towards him in a mixture of disbelief, jubilation and amusement. If ever there was a magic moment in Indian cricket, it was this.
At 182 for five, with New Zealand building a healthy total, there was no hint of the drama and excitement to follow. Chetan Sharma clean bowled Ken Rutherford off the fourth delivery of his 6th over. Wicketkeeper Ian Smith came in next and Sharma went through his defence too, first ball. Celebrations gave way to a buzz of anticipation as Ewan Chatfield took Smith’s place.
Kapil Dev called in his field. Each fielder was on his toes, desperate not to let down the little speedster, now hyper-active with excitement. They need not have bothered. Sharma steamed in and let go, and amazingly, Chatfield missed. The ball crashed into his stumps.
The noise was deafening. Chetan Sharma had taken a hat-trick, and all clean bowled. The entire Indian team descended on the triumphant bowler, as the crestfallen Chatfield walked away unnoticed. In that match Sunil Gavaskar reached his maiden One-day century off 85 deliveries. It was to be his only one in what turned out to be the penultimate match of his career. India marched into the semi-finals.
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011
Published in India by Sporting Links