Keshav Maharaj, who on Monday became the second ever South African to take a Test hat-trick, quipped that the ‘hat-trick ball’ he bowled was not the greatest, and thanked Wiaan Mulder for grabbing a blinder. Mulder dove to his right and took a stunning reflex catch to help Maharaj get the hat-trick.
For years now Keshav Maharaj has been the unsung hero of South African cricket, but on Monday in St Lucia, the left-arm spinner deservedly became the center of attention. Chasing 324, West Indies were gliding along well at 107/3, and it was then that Maharaj weaved his magic, taking a stunning hat-trick to run through the hosts’ middle-order.
But while the first two dismissals – of Kieran Powell and Jason Holder – were attributed to Maharaj’s skills, the third one, of Joshua da Silva, was completely down to the excellence of the fielder. Bowling round the wicket to the right-hander, Maharaj drifted down the pads, but as the batsman clipped it, Wiaan Mulder took a stunning reflex catch to help the left-arm spinner complete his hat-trick. Maharaj became only the second South African bowler in history to take a Test hat-trick, and instantly the team broke into wild celebration, with the man himself unleashing a dive.
Speaking post the day’s play, Maharaj admitted that the hat-trick ball was not the greatest, and quipped that he was indebted to Mulder, who helped him achieve the rare fear through some stunning fielding.
“I probably could have bowled a much better ball than that, but full credit to Wiaan for plucking that catch. It was a superb reaction catch and whatever Wiaan wants to eat or drink tonight, it will probably be on me,” Maharaj said of his hat-trick ball, reported ESPN Cricinfo.
“I think Powell was looking to come after me. The second one I bowled what I have been bowling throughout and it fortunately got the inside edge. And then the hat-trick, I had so many things going on in my head as to where to bowl the ball. I just bowled normally and Joshua followed it down leg. Great catch down the leg-side.”
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Thanks to the pacers’ domination, Maharaj did not have much work to do in the first Test but in the second, the left-arm spinner finished with match-figures of 7/83, playing a significant hand in the second dig (5/36) to help the Proteas sweep the series 2-0. Maharaj lauded Dean Elgar for showing faith in spin and insisted that the southpaw has brought a sense of calm to the dressing room.
“Dean invests a lot of faith in spin as well. We are waiting for Dean to come and we will shower him with the choice of his beverage. There is a sense of calmness that is back in the dressing room and we are playing for each other.
“It is very important for the team. We have started a new journey with Dean. Good stepping stone for us. It was important for us to be clinical.”