Former Indian bowler Lakshmipathy Balaji used to be at the frontline of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the inaugural season of India’s T20 league. Balaji’s best performance came in the 31st match of the season against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP). It was a crucial match as both teams were looking to cement their place in the semi-finals. The match is remembered for Balaji’s heroics with the ball, taking the first hat-trick of IPL and taking his only ever five-wicket haul of IPL career.
The first innings —
After two quick wickets in the powerplay overs of Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan and Stephen Fleming, the responsibility to take the innings forward fell on Suresh Raina and Subramaniam Badrinath. Raina departed after getting off to a good start but it was Badrinath who shared a crucial partnership with skipper MS Dhoni. Both of them scored half-centuries and took the score to 181 for 4.
Bowlers stepped up —
Shaun Marsh was in a talismanic form in the first season. Despite the two wickets of James Hopes and Karan Goel, he kept KXIP in the hunt. When Marsh and Ramnaresh Sarwan started to stitch a dangerous partnership, Balaji came into the attack in the 13th over and took the two crucial wickets. Yuvraj Singh and Mahela Jayawardene were a no-show as they got out after scoring in single digits. Irfan Pathan tried reviving the chase but KXIP hit a roadblock — Lakshmipathy Balaji.
The hat-trick —
It was almost over for KXIP as they needed 27 runs to win from the last over. All Balaji had to do was refrain from bowling loose deliveries. Pathan started the over on a positive note by hitting the first ball for a six over the deep square leg. Next ball, a diving effort from Raina saved the boundary, 2 more runs on the board.
1st wicket – Balaji pulled out a slower ball from his quiver, bowling round the wicket and not giving Pathan much pace to hit the ball. The left-handed batsman managed to pull but shot it but straight to the deep square-leg fielder where Raina completed an easy catch.
2nd wicket – It was all over for KXIP as they needed 21 runs from 3 deliveries. Piyush Chawla slogged a fuller delivery but could only cross the 30-yard circle. Chamara Kapugedara completed the catch at the long-off position; two wickets in two balls.
3rd wicket – Tailender Vikram Singh came to bat on the penultimate ball of the innings. Vikram tried an awkward shot on the slower short ball and could barely manage to hit it. The ball went over his head towards wicketkeeper Dhoni who made no mistake. Hence, Balaji became the first bowler ever to take a hat-trick in IPL.
After Balaji, 13 other bowlers picked up hat-tricks in the 10-year long history of IPL. Amit Mishra has taken the most number of hattricks with three in his kitty already followed by Yuvraj who picked up two. Other bowlers who have taken a hat-trick are Andrew Tye, Makhaya Ntini, Ajit Chandila, Samuel Badree, Rohit Sharma, Pravin Tambe, Jaydev Unadkat, Axar Patel, Shane Watson, Sunil Narine and Praveen Kumar.