Hasaranga’s Dream Debut, recalling Uvais Karnain

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With his side struggling in an arduous duel, Malcolm Waller was a lone fighter, grappling to restore pride for the tourists. Debutant Wanidu Hasaranga was into his third over in a quest to proclaim his identity to international cricket.

He rattled Waller for 38, trapped Donald Tiripano and castled Tendai Chathara with a wrong-un to bundle out the visitors in quick succession. The elated youngster breezed with cheerful jollification, much to the delight of the faithful crowd at his hometown Galle. Little may have known that he was only the third bowler in history, after Taijul Islam and Kagiso Rabada, to claim an ODI hat-trick on debut. Moreover, the teenager became the first leg spinner and the second youngest after Aaqib Javed to record such feat in an ODI.

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The occasion revived memories of dream debuts by Sri Lankans, eventually disclosing a particular cricketing personality, who rose to fame in the 80s, becoming a household name among the fraternity. His dream debut against New Zealand in 1984 saw the first ever 5 wicket-haul by a debutant in an ODI. He was Shaul Hameed Uvaisul Karnain.

The youngster who began his career as a Hockey player was a Sri Lanka regular whilst still schooling. As a dependable all-rounder, the 21 year old starred at Colts, when he was called to the national side in March 1984. Karnain was to make his national debut alongside another 18 year old teenager, Aravinda de Silva, who would go on to become arguably the greatest batsman Sri Lanka ever produced. With a 104 run win the first ODI at SSC, the New Zealanders were eyeing a series wrap up at Moratuwa. On a dicey wicket, fortunes were turning against the home side. Reeling at 69/5 with batsmen Sidath Wettimuny, Brendon Kuruppu, Ranjan Madugalle, skipper Duleep Mendis and Aravinda de Silva all back in the hut, debutant Uvais Karnain joined Arjuna Ranatunga to add zest into depleted prospects. His 28 run cameo included 3 fours and a maximum and came in 24 deliveries. His crucial knock was indeed a blessing for Ranatunga who tussled with a half-ton, carrying Sri Lanka to a modest 157 in the 40 over game.

Sri Lanka carved early inroads with Vinothen John claiming opener John Wright for 3. It was about this time when Karnain began his carnage. His right arm medium pace sent back opposition skipper Geoff Howarth and Bruce Edgar, who was caught behind by Guy de Alwis, as both departed shortly after reaching double figures. Lance Cairns followed and already the visitors were 39/4.

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The marginally rated debutant was far from done. A few overs later, he trapped Jeff Crowe, denting further hopes for New Zealand. He exploited a crippled middle order, removing Martin Crowe as his final scalp. Both Crowe brothers were back in the pavilion for 9 runs. Karnain, who played second fiddle to Ranatunga with the willow, was supported by the senior himself with the ball. Ranatunga’s 3 for 23 wrapped up the rest as the Kiwis were humbled for 116. Uvais Karnain’s 5 for 26 saw him becoming the first ever bowler in ODI history to secure a 5 wicket-haul on debut. A forgettable day for New Zealand became a day ODI cricket would remember, a perennial narrative, never to be written again.