Four strikes in an over!

Chaminda Vaas is on cloud nine after taking a world record four wickets in his first over against Bangladesh. Vaas took a hat-trick off his first three balls and struck again off his fifth delivery.-— Pic. AFP

Chaminda Vaas' hat-trick off the opening three deliveries of a World Cup game at Pietermaritzburg may have been achieved against minnows Bangladesh. However, it reflected his ability to hit the right length, find the right line and obtain the right amount of swing at the very beginning of his spell.

STRIKE one, strike two, strike three... in the first three balls. Incredible stuff! And strike four arrived one legitimate delivery later!

Chaminda Vaas' hat-trick off the opening three deliveries of a World Cup game at Pietermaritzburg may have been achieved against minnows Bangladesh. However, it reflected his ability to hit the right length, find the right line and obtain the right amount of swing at the very beginning of his spell. The sign of a professional.

In the most dramatic start to any ODI, the wily 29-year-old left-arm paceman castled Hannan Sarkar who essayed a futile drive, reacted swiftly to snaffle up the return catch offered by Mohammed Ashraful, and had Ehsanul Haque taken in the slip cordon.

Even as the quiet, introspective Vaas, who invariably lets the ball do the talking, burst into a rare extravagant celebration with his team-mates, it marked the first occasion in international cricket when any bowler had achieved a hat-trick in the opening over of an ODI.

Only Chetan Sharma of India and Pakistan's Saqlain Mushtaq had a World Cup hat-trick against their name, and now, Vaas had joined this exclusive list. He then went one better too.

It soon became four out of five for Vaas when the Lankan trapped Sanwar Hossain leg-before with one that straightened after the batsman had picked up a cover-driven boundary and then seen a delivery declared wide. When the sensational over ended, the Bangladeshis were reeling at five for four.

It was a nightmare all over again for Bangladesh that had been humiliated by Canada in its opening group `B' game, provoking angry reactions back home. The side was clearly under pressure to perform and it wilted yet again.

Never really recovering from the body blows, Bangladesh was bundled out for 124 in 31.1 overs, Vaas eventually finishing with six for 25, the third best figures in World Cup history. It was only last season that this quality bowler had ripped through the Zimbabwe line-up at the Sinhalese Sports Club Stadium with eight for 19, that again included a hat-trick. He had been destructive yet again.

And the Lankans, with openers, skipper Sanath Jayasuriya (55 not out, 57b, seven fours, one six) and Marvan Atapattu (69 not out, 71b, eleven fours) knocked off the runs in just 21.1 overs, notching up their second win in group `B'. For the hopelessly out of sorts Bangladesh, it marked the second reverse.

Jayasuriya and Atapattu toyed with the stingless Bangladesh attack and it was the massacre of the innocents really. A lop-sided contest that was going to end only one way.

In fact, they could have been inflicted an even heavier defeat. When Vaas removed Al-Sahariar, whose uppish drive was pouched by Aravinda de Silva, the Bangladeshis, tottering at 25 for five, appeared to be seriously challenging the lowest score in World Cup history — Canada's 45.

However, useful contributions from No. 6 Alok Kapali, who batted fluently under the circumstances for his 32-ball 38, and skipper Khaled Mashud's defiant 20, that consumed 67 deliveries, saved the Bangladeshis from even greater humiliation.

Towards the end, Mashrafe Mortaza used the long handle while making 28, during which he added 26 face-saving runs for the last wicket with Manjural Islam. At least the 100-run mark was crossed.

Vaas then removed Mortaza to claim his sixth wicket, and for once he had outshone off-spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan, who had to be satisfied with three scalps this time. In the process, Vaas had also braved a back injury.

"I just tried to put the ball in the right spot to get the wicket and I did it," Vaas said about the hat-trick ball. He added, "I'm not worried about records. As long as I'm fit, I want to do well." Words that reflect on the self-effacing nature of this senior campaigner. There was more responsibility on him too after in-form seamer Pulasthi Gunaratne had been rendered hors de combat with a broken right index finger.

Things went like a `dream' for Vaas after Jayasuriya won the toss, and the paceman's six for 25 was the best bowling display by a Lankan in the World Cup, bettering Asantha de Mel's five for 32 (12 overs) against New Zealand at Derby '83.

It was a day that Vaas would remember for long and Bangladesh would want to forget in a hurry. The Lankan left-armer was right on the mark all right.

The scores:

Bangladesh: Hannan Sarkar b Vaas 0; Al-Sahariar c De Silva b Vaas 10; Mohammad Ashraful c and b Vaas 0; Ehsanul Haque c Jayawardene b Vaas 0; Sanwar Hossain lbw b Vaas 4; Alok Kapali c Jayasuriya b Fernando 32; Khaled Mashud lbw b Muralitharan 20; Mohammad Rafique c Sangakkara b Muralitharan 6; Tapash Baisya c Arnold b Muralitharan 5; Mashrafe Mortaza c Muralitharan b Vaas 28; Manjurul Islam (not out) 3. Extras (b-1, lb-4, nb-3, w-8) 16. Total (in 31.1 overs) 124.

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 4-5, 5-25, 6-70, 7-82, 8-88, 9-98.

Sri Lanka bowling: Vaas 9.1-2-25-6, Nissanka 5-0-22-0, Fernando 7-0-47-1, Muralitharan 10-4-25-3.

Sri Lanka: M. Atapattu (not out) 69; S. Jayasuriya (not out) 55. Extras (nb-1, w-1) 2. Total (for no loss in 21.1 overs) 126.

Bangladesh bowling: Manjural Islam 6-1-22-0, Mashrafe Mortaza 5-0-38-0, Tapash Baisya 3-0-21-0, Mohammad Rafique 4.1-1-22-0, Sanwar Hossain 2-0-14-0, Alok Kapali 1-0-9-0.