There was a time when a shot that carried the cricket ball out of the park was considered a unique event. Full matches were played without a single sixer being hit and players even frowned on a cross-bat slog. Sir Donald Bradman, considered the greatest batsman to have ever played the game, only hit 6 sixes in spite of scoring over 35,000 runs in his career.
Over the years, the attitudes have changed. A six is no longer an extraordinary event and hardly an innings goes by without a couple of balls getting whacked over the boundary ropes. But even though the shot has now become a norm, there are times when a six symbolises more than simply the runs it fetches.
It etches itself into the fans’ minds as an ever lasting memory, one that can be recalled years later and never fails to bring a nostalgic smile.
Presented here is a collection of sixes that remain memorable for Indian fans.
#6 Rahul Dravid at Old Trafford, 2011 – Hits 3 consecutive sixes vs England in his only T20 international match
Rahul Dravid was an old-school batsman. Mindful of his off stump, he played strokes that were technically correct and for his first few years, he struggled for a place in the Indian limited-overs squad. He found it hard to score at a quick pace; his primary instinct was to defend his wicket, not to attack the bowlers.
But, Dravid was also the quintessential team player – if the team needed an opener, he stepped up; if it was struggling for balance, he became the wicketkeeper. His career was epitomised by his willingness to adapt and change for the needs of his squad. By the time he hung up his boots, he was a stellar batsman in all formats.
This particular match was the only T20 international that Dravid played in Indian colours. It wasn’t a format naturally suited to his skills but the team needed runs. After a slow start, Dravid took charge in the 11th over when the batsmen really needed to push the run-rate up. Samit Patel was hoisted into the stands for three consecutive sixes that brought fans to their feet.
His first lofted shot over mid-wicket was as surprising as it was effective and even after almost six years, it remains memorable. The two that followed – a straight drive and a sweep – completed the triplet that still reminds us to Dravid’s potency as a batsman and his ability to cast himself into any mould that the team demanded.
#5 Sachin Tendulkar at Sharjah, 1998 – Hoists Shane Warne’s first ball in the match for a six in the Coca-Cola Cup final
Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne were at the peak of their games in the late 90s and the Coca-Cola Cup was a much anticipated tri-series as the two stalwarts faced each other in a neutral venue. A Tendulkar century in the prior match helped the Indians reach the finals and the stage was set for a showdown.
The Australians were touted as the obvious favourites, but in reality, they didn’t stand a chance. In what has often been called his most glorious one-day innings, Tendulkar led India’s chase scoring 134 runs. No shot exemplified his domination than the six off Shane Warne in the first ball of the match in the 20th over. The spinner decided to open the bowling round the wicket and Tendulkar hoisted him for a huge hit over long on.
(Video Courtesy: suganindian YouTube Channel)
Warne went wicketless in the match and gave away 61 runs. The little maestro’s performance in the series came to be known as the Desert Storm and Warne half-joked that he had nightmares later. That sixer would give any bowler bad dreams.
#4 Virender Sehwag at Multan, 2004 – Lofts six vs Pakistan to become the first Indian to score a Test triple century
For a long time the Indian team boasted of having some of the best batsmen in the world but not even one of them had scored a triple century. Sunil Gavaskar became the first man to pass 10,000 runs in Tests but even his top score was nowhere close to 300. If that fact didn’t tense Sehwag’s shoulders as he took guard on an individual score of 295, there was also the pressure of batting against arch-rivals Pakistan on their home turf.
(Video Courtesy: Trevor Byers Cricket YouTube Channel)
The Indian team visited their western neighbours in 2004 for the first time in 15 years. They hadn’t ever won a Test match on a Pakistani ground. Virender Sehwag’s innings, until then, had already put the visitors in a very strong position but that minute there was bigger than just one match.
For the Nawab of Najafgarh though, the gravity of the moment was immaterial. He played his cricket with a fearless attitude that the circumstances could barely influence. Treating Saqlain Mushtaq with disdain, he simply skipped down the track and sent the ball flying over the rope.
With his audacious batting, he found a permanent place in the history books and left an indelible mark on the Indian fans’ hearts. The occasion didn’t matter to him. The opposition didn’t matter. And most important of all, the spin bowler definitely didn’t matter.
#3 Yuvraj Singh at Durban, 2007 – Smashes 6 sixes in an over vs England at the ICC World Twenty20 tournament
Before Yuvraj Singh’s feat, 36 runs had been scored in an over thrice before. But never had it been achieved against a regular bowler of a Test playing nation in any form of international cricket. However, in that match against England, the swashbuckling left-hander made his achievement seem as casual as a walk in the park.
Stuart Broad didn’t know what hit him. He was casually flicked over mid-wicket, driven over long on and cut above the extra cover boundary. By the last ball of the over, Broad had almost resigned to his fate. Everyone in the stadium knew that no matter where the ball was bowled, Yuvraj was going to find a way to make the record his own.
(Video Courtesy: Jyoti Sharma YouTube Channel)
Yuvraj’s contribution to India’s tournament win was immeasurable. In the Super 8 match where he smashed Broad, he scored a half century in 12 balls and guaranteed a victory in the must-win match for India. Later in the semi-finals against Australia, he hit 70 runs in 30 balls to guide his team to the title match.
But those are statistics that fans sometimes forget. What they do always remember are Yuvraj’s 6 sixers in that Broad over.
#2 Sachin Tendulkar at Centurion, 2003 – Uppercuts Shoaib Akhtar for a six at the ICC World Cup
India haven’t lost to Pakistan in a World Cup match but whenever the two teams play, the Indian fans always get a bit nervous. The law of averages has to strike sometimes, doesn’t it? In that match in 2003, it seemed like India’s unbeaten streak was about to be broken. On the back of a Saeed Anwar century, Pakistan had posted a competitive total of 273 and every fan was worried about Shoaib Akhtar.
The Pakistani pacer was expected to be a handful on the quick Centurion pitch. He came running in for his first ball and unleashed a lightning fast delivery. It wasn’t on target, though. Before anyone could bat an eyelid, Sachin Tendulkar extended his arms and sliced the ball over the head of the fielder at deep third man. All of India erupted.
(Video Courtesy: Sahi pakde Hain YouTube Channel)
That six was followed by a sublime flick off the pads and a breathtaking straight drive. By the time Tendulkar departed, an agonising two runs short of a century, Akhtar’s threat had been suitably demolished. The Rawalpindi Express went for 72 runs in the match and India won with 26 balls to spare.
#1 MS Dhoni at Mumbai, 2011 – Wins India the ICC World Cup with a massive six
Every Indian older than 10 years of age – perhaps even younger – remembers where he or she was when this shot was hit. No words are really needed to describe the tremendous stroke or why it’s memorable for the Indian fans. Nothing can be written to do justice to the way MS Dhoni brandished his bat after the ball disappeared into the stands.
If he wanted, he could have been a jedi. If he wanted, he could have been a samurai. The fans can only be thankful that Dhoni chose to become a cricketer instead.
(Video Courtesy: Akshat Garg YouTube Channel)