London: Worcestershire bowler Joe Leach claimed a hat-trick with the first three balls of his side’s Royal London One-Day Cup match against Northamptonshire yesterday.
Leach had Richard Levi and Rob Keogh caught behind by Ben Cox with the opening two balls of the match before Ben Duckett was pouched by Jack Shantry to prompt scenes of mass shock and hysteria within the Worcestershire team.
Sri Lanka seamer Chaminda Vaas also achieved the feat in a World Cup match against Bangladesh in 2003 and added a further scalp with the fifth ball of the match en route to a four-wicket opening over. Despite the loss of three wickets from the first three balls, Northants survived to keep their One-Day Cup hopes alive with victory at Worcestershire.
A 33 from Rory Kleinveldt and Josh Cobb’s 32 helped the Steelbacks stutter to 126 all out. The tally looked assailable for the winless Rapids but they too struggled with the bat, slumping to 9-89.
Ben Cox struck 36 before his dismissal saw Worcestershire fall 21 runs short.Victory gave Northants’ their second of the competition and leaves Worcestershire on one point from four games in Group A.
Leach’s first over feats lit up the morning’s play, with the 24-year-old accounting for Richard Levi and Rob Keogh caught behind before removing Ben Duckett, caught at gully. His early flurry was gleefully recorded by Worcestershire’s Twitter account Jack Shantry, who had early taken the catch off Duckett, quickly took three victims of his own, removing Alex Wakely, David Willey and Steven Crook as Northants were reduced to 19-6 before eight overs had been played.
The 27-year-old left-armer went on to finish with figures on 4-29. Worcestershire’s response was largely timid, with Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Tom Fell, Joe Clarke, Brett D’Oliveira and Ross Whiteley departing inside the first 20 overs.
Azarullah snared three of those wickets, with Olly Stone and Kleinveldt also adding one to the tally. Daryl Mitchell’s resistance ended on 18 as the bowlers continued to dominate and only Leach’s 21 managed to give the valiant Cox any support as Ed Barnard and Shantry also went cheaply.
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