Australian speedster Mitchell Starc’s double hat-trick for New South Wales against Western Australia in Sydney on Tuesday (November 7) prompted statisticians to fish out the last time this feat was achieved in first-class cricket.
It took them 39 years back to when Amin Lakhani, a lithe, young and aspiring Gujarati left-arm spinner, took two hat-tricks for Combined XI against the Bishan Singh Bedi-led Indians in Multan in October 1978.
Lakhani dismissed S Venkataraghavan, Karsan Ghavri and Bharath Reddy in the first innings during his spell of 6 for 58. He then accounted for Mohinder Amarnath, Syed Kirmani and Kapil Dev in the second innings on his way to figures of 6 for 80, giving him match figures of 12 for 138. The left-armer also dismissed Sunil Gavaskar, the master batsman, in both innings of a match the Indians still managed to win by two wickets.
Despite his feat, Lakhani could never play for Pakistan as Iqbal Qasim was the frontline left-arm spinner in the national team, with Abdur Raqeeb, the prolific wicket-taker, waiting in the wings. His story was not unlike that of Rajinder Geol, who continued to be overlooked by the Indian selectors despite his pile of wickets in the Ranji Trophy.
Lakhani now lives a secluded life and runs a plastic business in Liaquatabad, in the central part of Karachi. He was informed of Starc’s feat by his friends.
“I follow cricket but very sparingly,” Lakhani told this correspondent. “Some friends told me about Starc’s hat-trick, and it’s also on youtube.”
Lakhani, now 58, said he had no regrets over not playing for Pakistan, but has fond memories of his two hat-tricks against the Indians.
“I remember my wickets and I still have that scorecard,” he said. “Then Indian team manager, Maharaja Fatehsinghrao Gaekwad, was kind enough to give me a cash award at the dinner after the match, and gave me some useful tips as well.”
In a career spanning 136 matches, Lakhani gobbled up 466 wickets, successfully playing for Karachi, Allied Bank, National Shipping and United Bank. He is remembered as one of the sharpest cricketing minds but he stayed away from the glitz of the media.