Mohammad Shami proved what making the most of one’s opportunity means, as he put up a match-winning performance in India’s fifth World Cup encounter against Afghanistan on Saturday. The pacer, who came into the team as a replacement for the injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar, not just notched up impressive figures of 4/40 in 9.5 overs, his brilliant hat-trick to wrap their Asian counterpart’s innings was the highlight. The 29-year-old credited Mahendra Singh Dhoni for helping him achieve the feat as the team’s most senior player urged him to bowl yorkers so that he could make it three out of three.
“Mahi bhai (Dhoni) told me to keep bowling yorkers, he said ‘don’t change anything now, you can get a hat-trick’", Shammi told ICC Media Zone.
The speedster added, "The plan was simple. There was no time to think, you just had to back yourself and your skills. I didn’t want to try variations because that increases the chances of going for runs.”
Three of the Shami’s four wickets were clean bowled. The fast bowler disturbed opener Hazratullah Zazai's timber in his first spell as the left-hander went for a slog. He then got the most important wicket of Mohammad Nabi, who almost won it for the Afghans, as he holed out to Hardik Pandya at long-on. The next delivery he bowled Aftab Alam as he attempted a big heave.
It’s here that Dhoni’s advice proved spot on as the cricketer’s yorker directly hit the stumps after Mujeeb Ur Rahman couldn’t connect.
Shami also became only the second Indian after Chetan Sharma, who accomplished the feat in 1987, to take a hat-trick in World Cups.
Watch all Shami's wickets HERE.
On having to wait for four matches before playing his first match of this edition, Shami said, "Getting a chance in the team is a bit of luck, but I was ready to seize my opportunity. The chance to get a hat-trick is a very rare thing and it’s very special for me.”
Shami was supported by the full bowling line-up as Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Yuzvendra Chahal got two wickets each and Kuldeep Yadav was economical despite not picking up wickets. Earlier in the day, captain Virat Kohli and Kedar Jadhav helped India reach a modest 224/8.