Karthik Meiyappan took the fifth hat-trick in T20 World Cup history as the UAE’s campaign finally caught fire in Geelong on Tuesday.
The young UAE leg-spinner dismissed Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Charith Asalanka and Dasun Shanaka in successive deliveries.
It was the first time a UAE cricket has taken a T20 international hat trick. And only Brett Lee, Curtis Campher, Wanindu Hasaranga and Kagiso Rabada have achieved the feat in the short format’s World Cup before.
His heroics came at a vital time for the national team, too, as they try to save their place in the World Cup in Australia.
The national team need to beat Sri Lanka if they are to have any chance of advancing to the main stage of the competition.
That looked to be stretching far beyond their reach after the Asia Cup champions made a blistering start at Kardinia Park.
Aided by some indifferent bowling by the national team, Sri Lanka were 42 for no loss in the fifth over, then 92-1 in the 12th.
At that point, Rajapaksa – their Asia Cup final hero – arrived at the crease to a huge roar from the Sri Lankan fans.
His stay was relatively brief, though, as he was caught by Kashif Daud off Meiyappan for just five.
From the next delivery, Asalanka was caught at the wicket by Vriitya Aravind. The bowler and wicketkeeper played together at an Under 19 World Cup as recently as two years ago.
And Meiyappan completed the set as he worked his next delivery through the gate between bat and pad to bowl Sri Lanaka’s captain, Shanaka.
The UAE will need to chase 153 if they are to claim victory.