A meeting with the first hat-trick man in ODIs
For years he has answered to the question: who is the first man to have taken a hat-trick in ODIs? More than 25 years on Jalal-ud-Din's identity remains the same. "People ask me about that hat-trick only," he says. "But it's okay, I will tell you about that." Jalal-ud-din is 49 now, sports a grey beard, is balding, and with his glasses on cuts a studious picture. It is difficult for someone who was not born then, has not been able to get a tape of that hat-trick, to imagine this genial man bowling fast. And for most of his career he bowled with his glasses on.
After one sentence of resistance to talk about "pre-historic" things, he realises he is holding back a story that is a kid's favourite. And then he narrates it in detail. "I wouldn't even have played that match against Australia in Hyderabad. Imran Khan had just come back from England, and hadn't acclimatised enough to be playing this match. So I was called up at the last moment. And I flew from Karachi to Hyderabad. I had never done that before.
"After Australia had got a good start chasing 230, we had pulled things back with three quick wickets. Then I got Allan Border's wicket, which wasn't a part of the hat-trick. In the evening, Hyderabad starts getting a similar breeze as Karachi, and that helped my swing. In my seventh over, Rodney Marsh went for a big drive and missed my natural out-swinger that came into him and bowled him.
"Then Bruce Yardley, too, went to drive an out-swinger and edged it through. Now we realised I could take a hat-trick and that would be a big achievement. We brought the field in, and I had a plan. Since I had got two wickets with out-swingers and since I also knew that the new man was good at blocking and would thrust his front foot out, I wanted to bowl an in-swinger. I might be making it sound easy, but hat-tricks are not easy to get. It's not that you can announce and take a hat-trick.
"In the Karachi Test later that year, Imran was on a hat-trick, and the batsman coming out to face the hat-trick ball was Dilip Doshi. Now Imran had taken him out first ball for the last two-three times, and as recently as in the first innings of the same match. He was very confident and was ready to bet he would take the hat-trick. We were so scared he would do it that none of us took the bet. But Doshi managed to survive three balls.
"Coming back to my hat-trick, I bowled a big in-swinger to Geoff Lawson, who is also Pakistan's coach now, and it somehow found the slightest gap between his pad and bat. We realised only the next morning that it was the first hat-trick in ODI cricket."
A coincidence it is that Lawson was the last victim in his hat-trick, and Jalal-ud-Din till not long ago was the only Level 3 qualified coach in Pakistan. He runs his own cricket academy now, which runs in co-operation with the PCB, and works at developing both home-grown coaches and young talent for Pakistan. Shahid Afirdi has associated with them to popularize one of the coaching programmes. Mohammad Sami, Hasan Raza and Fawad Alam are some of the famous players to have come out of his academy. "But it is not just the immediate results that we are looking at," he says. "We have been working scientifically, have taken help from outside Pakistan whenever we need, and have looked to develop cricketers from grass-root level."
As he explains what all he looks for in a young pace bowler – natural pace, fitness and build, action and alignment, and attitude in that order – it starts becoming easier for someone who has not seen him bowl to believe he was a pace bowler and took the first hat-trick in ODI cricket.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo