Its been nine years since Yuvraj Singh hit those historic six sixes
It has been nine years since Yuvraj Singh played one of the finest T20 innings in the inaugural edition of the World T20. However, it seems like it was only yesterday that the flamboyant Indian batsman set the Kingsmead in Durban on fire with a rare feat of hitting six consecutive sixes in an over. The year was 2007, and the first half of the year did not turn out to be fruitful for India as they
It has been nine years since Yuvraj Singh played one of the finest T20 innings in the inaugural edition of the World T20. However, it seems like it was only yesterday that the flamboyant Indian batsman set the Kingsmead in Durban on fire with a rare feat of hitting six consecutive sixes in an over.
The year was 2007, and the first half of the year did not turn out to be fruitful for India as they made an early exit from the ODI World Cup in the group stages. Disappointment, rage, and anger towards the Indian team and players were at its peak among the Indian fans due to their national team’s dismal performance in the World Cup. But little did anyone know that a team that had performed so poorly at the beginning of the year would go on to create history towards the later part of the year by claiming the inaugural World T20 Title.
The ODI World Cup turned out to be a disaster for India. In the aftermath of the event, Rahul Dravid resigned from his captaincy and Greg Chappell was sacked from his position of the Indian Coach. The BCCI just could not afford another disaster in the upcoming World T20 tournament in September and they shook up the team dynamics completely.
Finally, it was decided that a completely new and young team will be sent to play in the T20 World Cup, and senior players like Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar agreed with the decision.
Like most of the times, the Indian fans did not like the decision of sending a completely inexperienced squad as the other teams had decided to play the tournament with a full strength squad having the perfect balance of youth and experience. Now, the most important question: Who would take over the captaincy if Tendulkar and Dravid had opted out of the tournament? There were a couple of options in Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh. But, totally out of the blue, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was handed over the responsibility of leading the side in South Africa.
It looked like just another experiment from the BCCI and everyone—from the pundits to the fans—was convinced that yet another disaster is on the cards. But, what followed afterward in the tournament gave the nation of a billion people memories to cherish for a lifetime. India, against all the odds, lifted the World T20 trophy and scripted a perfect underdog story that keeps inspiriting the nation even today. Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes in an over off Stuart Broad at the Kingsmead in Durban was the main highlight of this story, and Yuvraj was the protagonist in it.
It was the 21st match of the tournament. India were up against England in what turned out to be a do-or-die clash for both the teams in the super-8 stage. Both India and England had lost their first match of the super-8 stage to New Zealand and South Africa respectively. As a result, both the teams needed to win to stay alive in the tournament. India won the toss and chose to bat first on a wicket that looked like a batting paradise. Sehwag and Gambhir got India off to a flier with a 136-run stand for the first wicket. It was the 15th over of the innings when England got the first breakthrough as Chris Tremlett knocked Sehwag’s stump over. However, by then he had done enough damage to England, having scored 68 from 52 deliveries. But, another couple of wickets fell quickly as Gambhir (58) and Uthappa (6) went in quick succession. India somehow crawled on their way to 155/3 in the 17th over as the English bowlers seemed like making a late comeback into the game. It was now time for Yuvraj Singh to arrive at the crease; the audience welcomed him with a loud cheer and with hopes of witnessing fireworks off his willow.
A couple of deliveries were left in Tremlett’s over as Yuvraj walked out to bat. The tall and strongly built bowler welcomed Yuvraj with a short pitched delivery on the off stump at a good pace. Tremlett taunted Yuvraj and he took on the challenge thrown at him. The very next delivery Yuvraj made room for himself and drove it uppishly over the covers for a boundary. Andrew Flintoff came on to bowl the next over and he was the one who provided the spark to the wildfire that was to follow in the next. Yuvraj struck Flintoff for a couple of sweetly timed boundaries on the fourth and fifth deliveries of the over and heated arguments started between the two. Flintoff had no idea what he had started as Yuvraj channeled the anger in the right direction to produce one of the best innings that the world had ever witnessed in T20 cricket.
India were on 171/3 at the start of the 19th over from Stuart Broad with Yuvraj and Dhoni were unbeaten on 14(6) and 7(6) respectively. The first ball of the over bowled on a good length went flying over deep mid-wicket for a massive six. Young Broad looked under pressure straight away as Yuvraj flicked the second delivery of the over for another six over backward square leg. Now, Broad and skipper Collingwood had a brief discussion after which Broad went on to bowl the third delivery. This time, it was bowled full just outside off; Yuvraj cleared his left leg and smashed him straight over deep extra cover for another huge six. Broad didn’t take much longer to bowl the next delivery. This time, he ended up bowling a wide full toss that Yuvraj timed sweetly over point for the same result.
Everyone in the stadium went up on their toes as they could sense that they are going to witness something spectacular today. Meanwhile Flintoff, Collingwood, Broad, and almost the entire team had a team meeting on the ground suggesting ideas to stop the onslaught. Unfortunately, everyone was blank; Broad went on to bowl the fifth delivery and Yuvraj smacked it over mid-wicket for the fifth consecutive six. Dimitri Mascarenhas was a mere spectator at the boundary; it was as if Yuvraj was avenging for the game against England in the Natwest Series prior to this match. Mascarenhas had struck Yuvraj for five consecutive Sixes in that match, and Yuvraj made his intentions clear that he was going for the full bounty.
It was the last ball of the penultimate over, and the crowd was on their toes, England were under pressure, and Broad pitched it on good length as Yuvraj stroked it for the sixth consecutive six over mid-on to create a world record, along with the feat of scoring the fastest T20 fifty in 12 ball. Flintoff was given the charge to bowl the final over. Dhoni was on strike, and he reverse swept it for just a single. Yuvraj was back on strike, and Flintoff, without saying a word, went straight back to his bowling mark. Flintoff bowled a wide full toss the second time, and Yuvraj left it assuming it would be called a wide, but the umpire did not respond.
The two had a brief chat again but it didn’t last long this time. The next delivery was clipped into the legside for a couple of runs. And on the fourth delivery, Yuvraj launched yet another Six; this time over long off. The penultimate delivery and Flintoff bowls a full toss. Yuvraj flat-batted it straight to the hands of Collingwood at long on. Although Flintoff had the last laugh, the damage had been done by then- 58 off just 16 balls comprising off three fours and seven scintillating sixes! Ravi Shastri, who was commentating on that match, summed up Yuvraj’s innings perfectly: “He came in like thunder and goes like lightning!”
India posted 218/4 on the board and later, they restricted England to 200/6 to win the match by 18 runs. Yuvraj Singh was adjudged the ‘Man of the Match’, and this performance acted as a confidence booster for India in the upcoming matches that helped them to go on and lift the trophy. This innings will always occupy a special place in the heart of the Indian fans, and they will cherish these memories till their last breath.