With six wickets to take and a day to survive, the fifth and the final day of the 3rd Test between England versus South Africa promised to be exhilarating. At the crease were Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma, upon whom the Proteas could bank. But it wasn't to be, as the new sensation of English cricket Toby Roland-Jones trapped Bavuma LBW and sent Vernon Philander back to the hut on the following ball. From then on, the match lost its charm.
However, Moeen Ali infused life into Oval's 100th Test with a breathtaking finish.
Nine overs into the second session on Day 5, Ali induced Elgar to play a drive and the centurion fell for it only managing an edge to Ben Stokes at first slip in the process. Off the very next ball, Kagiso Rabada took a needless approach and drove at a delivery with hard hands and helped Ben Stokes add another catch to his tally.
The last time an English spinner took a hat-trick was in 1938. Tom Goddard, after a 79-year long wait, was soon going to find company. But the wait for Ali's hat-trick was halted by Stokes' over as he had dismissed his two victims off the fifth and sixth delivery of his over. Luckily for the England all-rounder, Keshav Maharaj played out the hosts' vice-captain.
Moments later, Ali took his mark and was ready to script history. He fired in a quick one, Morne Morkel went forward to stonewall it but missed it and got pinged in front. Morkel knew he was out, Ali knew he had done something special. But then there was drama. The umpire ruled South Africa's No 11 not out and Joe Root didn't hesitate one bit to take a review.
A couple of minutes later, celebrations began. England had not only bounced back in the third Test but had done so emphatically and with an unforgettable end. Only one Test had seen a similar end and that happened 115 years ago, when Australia's Hugh Trumble scalped a hat-trick against England at Melbourne in 1902. Moeen's was also the first hat-trick in The Oval's 100-Test history. It was also the first hat-trick that involved only southpaws. A lot of records tumbled and it probably is a apt time to take a stroll down the memory lane and explore more about Test hat-tricks.
Australia's Frederick Spofforth, a right-arm fast bowler became the first bowler to bag a hat-trick in 1878 against England. The first Indian to do so was Harbhajan Singh in that Kolkata Test in 2001. Australia's Hugh Trumble, Pakistan's Wasim Akram and England's Stuart Broad have achieved this feat twice. Let's go through some of the other records: