Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka’s premier limited-overs bowler, is best remembered for taking four wickets in four balls during the 2007 World Cup encounter against South Africa in Providence, Guyana. 12 years later, Afghanistan leg-spinning sensation Rashid Khan created history as he matched Malinga’s feat by taking four wickets in four balls to help Afghanistan win the third and final Twenty20 International in Dehradun and sweep the series against Ireland 3-0. In the process of his spell, Rashid also created several records in the process. Afghanistan had reached 210/7 thanks to a brilliant 81 off 36 balls from Mohammad Nabi and a solid contribution from Hazratullah Zazai, who smashed 162* in the previous match.
In response, Ireland made a great start with Kevin O’Brien and Andrew Balbirnie sharing a 96-run stand for the second wicket. At 153/3 in the 16th over, the game was evenly poised with Kevin O’Brien batting brilliantly. Then, Rashid arrived and he changed the entire complexion of the game. In the final ball of the 16th over, O’Brien edged a quick ball to Shafiqullah who took a fine catch to fall for 74. In the first ball of the 18th over bowled by Rashid, George Dockrell mistimed the lofted shot to long on where Nabi, who had earlier blasted 81, timed his leap perfectly, took the catch, threw the ball up as he jumped over the rope, came back in and took a brilliant catch.
Afghanistan were going for the kill and Rashid took a hat-trick when Shane Getkate was stumped off a googly and the legspinner created history when he got a flatter delivery to straighten and trap Simi Singh in front for a golden duck. Rashid ended up with five wickets when Joshua Little missed a googly and was bowled. Rashid ended with 5/27 and Afghanistan had swept the series 3-0.
Rashid became the seventh bowler to take a hat-trick in Twenty20 Internationals but he became the first spinner to achieve this feat in this format. Brett Lee, Jacob Oram, Tim Southee, Thisara Perera, Malinga and Faheem Ashraf are the other bowlers to have taken a hat-trick in Twenty20 Internationals.
The 20-year-old became the fourth bowler to take two five-wicket hauls in T20Is. Umar Gul of Pakistan, Ajantha Mendis of Sri Lanka and Imran Tahir of South Africa are the other players to have achieved this feat. Rashid’s first five-wicket haul was against Ireland when he took 5/3 in Greater Noida in 2017.
Malinga was the first bowler to take four wickets in four balls. At 206/5 chasing 210, it seemed the game was up for Sri Lanka. The right-arm pacer built the tension in the 45th over by getting rid of Shaun Pollock for 12 with a slower ball that cut away and the batsman played down the wrong line. In the last ball of the over, Andrew Hall chipped a full, slower ball to cover for a golden duck and Sri Lanka had a faint chance.
With only one run coming in the 46th over, Malinga bowled the 47th and he dismissed Jacques Kallis for 86 when the batsman edged a full ball to Kumar Sangakkara. Malinga got the hat-trick but he was not done. In the very next ball, Makhaya Ntini was undone by a yorker and Malinga made a big name for himself by taking four wickets in four balls. The Sri Lanka pacer should have gotten Charl Langeveldt and Robin Peterson but the ball just missed the stumps and the outside edge. In the end, South Africa held their nerve when Peterson edged Malinga to the third man fence to help the side win a cracking game by one wicket.