Cricket freak’s all-time hat-trick
RAIN may have restricted Wendesday's (AEST) Indian Premier League encounter to just 8.2 overs but the match still produced plenty.
By the end of it Royal Challengers Bangalore's finals hopes were extinguished, Steve Smith's Rajasthan Royals season was over, and Shreyas Gopal claimed one of cricket's greatest ever hat-tricks by removing Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Marcus Stoinis
Smith was unused in his final match for Rajasthan before heading home for Australia's pre-World Cup training camp, as rain ended the Royals' five-over pursuit of 63 after just 3.2 overs.
With the minimum amount of overs required for a result not completed, the sides shared the two points on offer, leaving Kohli's side three points short of the top four with just a game to go.
Smith sent Bangalore out to bat after winning the toss and looked set to regret that decision as Kohli flew out of the blocks in the five-over-a-side encounter.
The Indian maestro hit the first ball of the innings from Varun Aaron for a glorious six over long-off and the second for a less convincing maximum over third man.
It was a sign of things to come as Kohli went on to plunder a seven-ball 25, giving him the second highest strike rate in an innings (357.14) of the season behind Andre Russell's 13-ball 48 (369.23).
There were three sixes in total in Kohli's innings, with the third coming off Gopal's first ball - a sweet strike over long-on.
The leg-spinner had the last laugh in the end; Kohli miscuing to long-on two balls later.
On his next delivery Gopal procured a skewed drive from de Villiers that landed safely in the hands of regulation cover, and then completed the hat-trick as Stoinis picked out mid-off perfectly to fall for a golden duck.
As hat-tricks go it doesn't get too much better, with Jordan Clark's county collection of Joe Root, Kane Williamson and Jonny Bairstow, Glenn McGrath's Test effort of Sherwin Campbell, Brian Lara and Jimmy Adams, and Harbhajan Singh's 2001 trio of Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne the others that come to mind.
Gopal's hat-trick put the brakes on the RCB innings, with the hosts only adding another 27 runs off the 20 balls after Kohli's dismissal having scored 35 off the 10 prior.
Having restricted RCB to 7-62, the Royals looked on course to chase that total down thanks to Sanju Samson's 13-ball 28 only for rain to end their chase at 1-41 after 3.2 overs.
Smith departs India having scored 319 runs at 39.87 in the campaign with a strike rate of 116.00.
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