Karthik Meiyappan recently graduated from his finance studies at college in Dubai with distinction.
Which is something he will treasure for life, surely. And yet it is still only the second best memory he has made in recent times.
If he ever did dream such a thing could happen to him – and bear in mind he had never taken a hat-trick before at any level of the game – it might have panned out just the way it did under the lights of Kardinia Park Stadium.
First, he got Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who only recently flayed arguably the world’s best bowling attack all round Dubai International Stadium to lead Sri Lanka to the Asia Cup title.
Next, he had Charith Asalanka caught at the wicket by one of his closest mates, Vriitya Aravind.
Then he worked a delivery through the gap Sri Lanka’s captain, Dasun Shanaka, had left between his bat and pad to complete the set.
“First up against Rajapaksa, the leg-side side was long boundary for him,” Meiyappan said.
“I thought he would take me down over there because he was I think on five off five at that time. I started to push it across him, he tried to cover it but he sliced it. It went straight to Kashif Daud on the boundary.
“And then Asalanka walked in. That was a no brainer for me: I was going to bowl a wrong ’un straight up.
“Vriitya took an amazing catch. And when Dasun walked in, I was going through my emotions of it being a hat-trick, but all I wanted to do was bowl at the stumps.
“Whatever happens after that, it is not in my hands. But again I just bowled a wrong ’un to him and I think he picked it as leggie but was trying to go over the covers.”
In the ensuing bundle, he was mobbed by a couple more of his long term buddies. Aryan Lakra, for whom Meiyappan deputised as vice-captain of the UAE Under 19s side up until a couple of years ago. And Alishan Sharafu, who has been a non-playing member of the squad so far on tour, raced on to the field to celebrate with his age-group peer, too.
“It is a great feeling to play with those boys,” Meiyappan said. “We played in the Under-19 World Cup back in 2020. And then to play the T20 World Cup with them now is a great feeling for all of us.
“It's just a lot of energy to play with them. Youngsters taking on the field and doing what we do, that is something that we take a lot of pride in.”
At the culmination of the Sri Lanka innings, Meiyappan first conducted a flash interview. Then he was hugged by almost every member of the national team’s tour party – with the biggest bear hug reserved for the team’s locally-based security liaison.
He barely made it back to the dressing room before the UAE chase started, as he was stopped for selfies and to sign autographs for a newly-adoring public.
UAE went on to lose the game after the batting misfired again, pushing them to the brink of exiting the World Cup.
But the game will always be remember in the Emirates for Meiyappan’s moment. It was the first time a UAE men’s team player had achieved the feat in T20 international.
He also wrote his name into an illustrious list: only Brett Lee, Kagiso Rabada, Curtis Campher and Wanindu Hasaranga had taken hat-tricks in T20 World Cups before.
“It still hasn’t sunk in that I’ve got a hat-trick in a T20 World Cup, and am just the fifth bowler to do so,” Meiyappan said.
“It is really a proud moment. It feels amazing. But, it would have been much sweeter, much better if we had won the game tonight.”
When the Indian Premier League was exiled to the UAE because of Covid two years ago, Meiyappan spent a season training alongside the stars of Royal Challengers Bangalore.
That, despite the fact he is a dyed-in-the-wool Chennai Super Kings fan.
Does he hope Chennai were taking note of his feat at the World Cup?
“That is something I don’t know about, but I hope they do,” he said.