Twenty-eight-year-old Madhya Pradesh left-arm seamer Ravi Yadav etched his name into the record books when he became the first bowler to pick up a hat-trick in his first over on first-class debut. Incidentally, it came against Uttar Pradesh, the state he hails from.
South Africa’s Ricey Phillips had previously taken a hat-trick in his first over in first-class cricket for Border against Eastern Province in 1939-40, but hadn’t bowled in his four previous appearances. Seven other Indians have achieved hat-tricks on debut; Javagal Srinath, Salil Ankola and Abhimanyu Mithun among the more prominent names. However, Yadav’s feat is unique because it came in his very first over.
The significance of his achievement is yet to sink in, but Yadav says he’ll sleep happily tonight knowing he’s a first-class cricketer, something he thought wouldn’t happen when he was lost to the game for four years between 2010 to 2014.
“I’m not sure if it’s good luck, fate or whatever, but this record has come against UP,” he told ESPNCricinfo. “I grew up playing cricket in UP, but couldn’t get chances after I came out of the Under-19s, so it feels nice. I’m happy that I’m finally a Ranji player.”
Yadav is a product of the Sports College in Lucknow, the institute that made Suresh Raina and RP Singh the cricketers they went on to become. “I even bowled to Raina bhai a few times in 2010, before his Test debut, but I’m not sure he will remember.”
Injuries then derailed his career after he had graduated from the institute. Between 2010 and 2014, Yadav was away from the game because of injuries to his back and knee.
“I saw my career slipping away, I didn’t know where my future lay,” he said. “I saw my Under-19 team-mates progressing and thought ‘we grew up together, now they’ve made it to the next level and I’m nowhere”, so I was motivated even more. Unfortunately I didn’t get chances in UP.”
In 2016, he moved to Morena in MP and enrolled for district trials under the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA). He picked up wickets in their local tournaments and was soon assigned to be the state’s net bowler.
“For three years, I was a net bowler, but I was never treated like one,” he said. “Our seniors Devendra Bundela, Harvinder Singh Sodhi and Abbas Ali kept talking to me about the importance of keeping fit and grabbing my chances when the opportunities come. The wait is worth it now.”
In between, much to his family’s annoyance, Yadav gave up a Railways job to play cricket full-time. It’s a move they didn’t quite make peace with. “Until very recently, they kept asking when are you going to make your life,” he said. “I couldn’t look at them in the eye because I didn’t have answers.
“I felt like a failure. Today, I can proudly call them up and tell them I made my Ranji Trophy debut and even picked up a hat-trick. My brother found out and called me. I think he wanted me to break the news to them.
“My best friend Kushveer Singh, who played with me in the Under-19s in UP will also be delighted. He told me if I take five wickets on debut, he’ll come to watch me the next day from wherever he is. So, I have at least two more wickets to take tomorrow (Tuesday).”