For 15 years, Sri Lanka fast bowler Chaminda Vaas tormented opposition batsmen with his seam and swing, taking 761 international wickets.
Today – almost nine years on from his last international appearance – Vaas turns 44, and we’re celebrating his birthday by looking back at his finest ICC Cricket World Cup achievements – of which there are many.
Vaas played for Sri Lanka 31 times across four different Cricket World Cups (1996, 1999, 2003, 2007), famously winning the trophy at his first attempt as Sri Lanka beat Australia in the 1996 Final – where he took the wicket of Aussie opener Mark Waugh.
In total, Vaas took 49 wickets at Cricket World Cups, second only to Muttiah Muralitharan in Sri Lanka’s list of leading wicket-takers at the tournament and bettered by just three other men in the Cricket World Cup all-time list – Glenn McGrath (71), Muralitharan (68) and Wasim Akram (55). He is also one of just three Sri Lanka players to take a five-wicket haul at a World Cup.
His most fruitful tournament came in 2003, when he claimed 23 scalps at a stunning average of 14.39 to finish the tournament as the leading wicket-taker.
It was in that very edition of the Cricket World Cup that Vaas re-wrote history. Not only did he pick up four wickets against West Indies, to go with three against Canada, Kenya and Australia, he also recorded the best-ever figures by a Sri Lankan at a Cricket World Cup – 6/25 against Bangladesh – featuring a famous hat-trick…
Taking the wickets of Hannan Sarkar, Mohammad Ashraful and Ehsanul Haque against Bangladesh in Pietermaritzburg at the 2003 Cricket World Cup, Vaas made history by becoming the first person to claim a hat-trick with the first three balls of a one-day international.
Opener Sarkar was the first to fall; a classic Vaas in-swinger taking out his off stump with the first ball of the game. Ashraful was next to fall, lobbing another in-swinger straight back to Vaas for an easy caught and bowled.
With Haque walking to the crease and Vaas on a hat-trick, Sri Lanka surrounded the bat and it proved fateful, as Vaas found the edge for Mahela Jayawardene to take the catch at second slip and become just the third player in history to take a hat-trick at the Cricket World Cup.
As if that wasn’t enough, Vaas made it four wickets from the over when he disposed of Hossain lbw on the penultimate ball.
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