Watch: At Peshawar in 2003, Alok Kapali became the first Bangladeshi to complete a hat-trick in international cricket. He managed only three more wickets in Test cricket.
Kapali was only 17 when he made his first-class debut, for Sylhet Division against Dhaka Metropolis in the Green Delta National Cricket League. That was on November 22, 2000 – a mere 12 days after Bangladesh had played their first ever Test match.
Kapali continued to play for 21 seasons, scoring 9,138 runs at 33.84 and picking up 217 wickets at 32.56 from 172 first-class matches. Yet, at international level, he was at best a batter who could bowl. In each format, his leg-breaks got him fewer wickets than matches at the highest level.
As is often the case, the record was the bleakest in Test cricket: six wickets in 17 matches at 118.17 hardly inspire awe, nor does a wicket every 30.4 overs (more than a usual session of cricket). He had taken two wickets on debut, but had taken only one more (albeit of Justin Langer) until he took field against Pakistan in Peshawar.
Pakistan had already won the first Test of the three-match series, in Karachi. At Peshawar, Bangladesh rode on Javed Omar’s 119, Habibul Bashar’s 97, and Mohammad Ashraful’s 77 to reach 310-2. Then they ran into Shoaib Akhtar (6-50), and were bowled out for 361.
But Mohammad Rafique (5-118) took charge, and Pakistan soon became 266-7 before Yousuf Youhana (later Mohammad Yousuf) and Shabbir Ahmed stretched added 23. At this point, Khaled Mahmud summoned Kapali – the seventh bowler – in the 107th over of the match.
Shabbir patted the first four balls without discomfort. He then hit the fifth ball to mid-off. Danish Kaneria, who now holds the record for most ducks in Test cricket for Pakistan, left the next ball. It hit him on the back leg, and the umpire ruled him out.
Realising he would run out of partners, Yousuf hit Rafique for six off the next ball, but could not manage another run off the next five balls. No.11 Umar Gul somehow managed to miss a leg-break that turned a bit, yet hit his back leg in a line that was enough for the umpire to give a verdict in Kapali’s favour.
Kapali became the first Bangladeshi to achieve the feat in international cricket. In 2006, Shahadat Hossain joined him during an ODI against Zimbabwe. Till date, Sohag Gazi (against New Zealand in 2013/14) remains the only other Bangladeshi to do a hat-trick in Test cricket.
After securing a 66-run lead, Bangladesh collapsed to 96 against Akhtar (4-30) and lost the Test match, and the series. Kapali bowled only 15 more overs across six matches in Test cricket. He did not get another wicket. Outside the hat-trick, he took three wickets in 1,100 balls.