In a batsmen-friendly format, bowler has 4 overs to keep the runs in check and get a few wickets for the team. Small grounds don’t help their cause either. And with all of this to contend with, a hat-trick may seem like a far-fetched possibility. Yet, the T20 format has seen numerous hat-tricks over the years. The flipside of the format is that batsmen look for big runs more often than they do in the other formats; this increases the chances of errors being committed and wickets falling. And, the esteemed hat-trick comes into play. Rajasthan Royals have had 4 hat-tricks since the inception of the Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL). It took some time for the first one to come by, while the most recent one was seen last season. Let’s go from the most recent to the first hat-trick by Royals bowlers.
Shreyas Gopal vs RCB, M. Chinnaswamy, 2019
6 balls – that is all Shreyas could bowl in a rain-hit match. He wasn’t even expecting Steve Smith to hand the ball to him, in the Powerplay. The attacking captain he is, Smith took the brave decision and Shreyas was at his run-up. He admitted to being a bit nervous with the task of bowling to two of the world’s best - Virat Kohli & AB de Villiers. And, they were in some mood after smashing 23 off the first over of the innings.
Ball 1: 6
Ball 2: 4
Ball 3: 2
Ball 4: Shreyas was staring at a huge over. He decided to outsmart Kohli with one that was tossed wide outside off. Kohli went for it, toe-ended the ball and was caught at long on.
Ball 5: He tossed one again, this time to de Villiers who had crossed over on the previous ball. He mistimed his slog and was taken at cover. Shreyas completed a double over both Kohli and ABD.
Ball 6: Stoinis came in to face the hat-trick ball. He had to go for it and blocking wasn’t an option. Shreyas bowled a conventional leg-break. Stoinis tried to clear mid-off, but couldn’t hit the ball off the middle. Shreyas had his hat-trick, in front of his home crown in Bengaluru. This was a moment he would savour for the rest of his life. Sadly, the match was abandoned.
Shane Watson vs SRH, Ahmedabad, 2014
When Shane Watson dismissed SRH’s Karn Sharma, little had he known right away that he had claimed a hat-trick. He had taken 2 wickets off the first 2 balls in the 17th over. However, many overs ago, in the 4th of the innings, Watto had bowled Shikhar Dhawan on the final delivery of the over. When he returned during the death overs, Watson started with a gentle length delivery that was clobbered to long off. Rahane made no mistake and Watson had 2 in 2. Karn Sharma edged the next ball through to Samson, completing the hat-trick for Watson. This happened to be Rajasthan Royals’ second hat-trick in as many games in Ahmedabad.
Pravin Tambe vs KKR, Ahmedabad, 2014
That brings us to this incredible hat-trick by the then 42-year old Pravin Tambe. He had proven to be a wonderful leg-spinner for us since he joined the team. KKR were coasting in the chase, until their set batsmen got out in the 15th over. They needed 49 runs off 5 overs with 7 wickets in hand.
Tambe came on to bowl and fired one down the leg side spotting Manish Pandey’s early advance down the track. Samson was quick with the gloves and made the stumping look quite easy. Yusuf Pathan faced the next one, and he gifted a return catch to Tambe, who accepted it with his safe pair of hands.
Tambe tossed the third ball up and drew Ryan ten Doeschate forward. The ball went on with the arm and struck him in front. Tambe went down on his knee in appeal, and the umpire obliged. That left him looking skywards, thanking the heavens as the Royals surrounded him to celebrate. That was quite a fairy-tale spell for the leggie.
Ajit Chandila vs PWI, Jaipur, 2012
The first hat-trick by a Rajasthan Royals player happened at the SMS Stadium. Ajit Chandila got three internationally recognised batsmen out to achieve the feat in just his second IPL game. Bowling the opening over of the innings, his first victim was Jesse Ryder who looked to take him on, but skied it only as far as mid-on. Ganguly, the next man to go, got his front foot out way too early. The ball hit his bat, his pad and went to the Sreevats Goswami, who whipped the bails off before Ganguly could return inside the crease. When Chandila returned for his next over, he drifted one outside the off stump to current Royal, Robin Uthappa, who played for the turn. There was none, and Goswami completed another stumping. Chandila had the first hat-trick for Rajasthan Royals.
We get to see plenty of big scores by batsmen and it’s great to watch the ball being smacked out of the park. But, watching a hat-trick brings about a different feeling; simply because it isn’t as common as many other achievements in cricket. We have some skilful bowlers in our squad and would certainly not rule out the possibility of one more hat-trick soon.