Sixes are like those hot selling stocks in a stock market which are more often than not spoken about the market itself. Here are some of the instances when the six remains the only memory of the match or rather a match that has always been defined by that six.
They are a sight to watch and are the real worth of every penny spent by the cricket fans. Sometimes brutal, sometimes effortless, sometimes nasty, sometimes beauty, yes they are the sixes, the maximum runs scored when a five and a half ounce of leather ball meets the meat of a thumping mass of English or Kashmir willow.
No wonder the T20 version of cricket has gone down very well with one and all, at least with the fanatics. Well before the days of music, pyrotechnics and of course cheerleaders, it was sixes that made the day of a cricket fan.
A beautiful outswinger taking a batsman’s outside edge to the slips or a late in-swinging yorker shattering the timber would always be forgotten when the batsman sent one sailing in the crowd. An air-borne fielder at point or covers taking a blinder would be a memory of past when the willow wielder rips the ball soaring into the stands.
Many such sixes have been etched in the memories of millions. Some have ruined careers of bowlers, some have left scars on their minds and some have come out better learning the lesson the hard way. No wonder they call it a batsman’s game.
MS Dhoni’s deflating value in the fickle minds of Indian cricket fans got a nitro boost when he hit Clint McKay for a six that clinched the deal in Adelaide on Sunday. Undoubtedly it was compared to the max hit which brought the World Cup home. But then the situation didn’t demand, here it did but both the times he did it when it mattered the most.
The assortment remains incomplete without the stuff Javed Miandad strutted. It is a story of legends. A fairytale that every cricketer, rather wannabe batsmen from the 1980s grew up on. Atleast the mid-80s generation were in their nappies when Chetan Sharma became India’s biggest villain. It was a hot day in Sharjah and the final of Australasia Cup between arch-rivals India and Pakistan. Everything else in the match became irrelevant except the last ball of the match.
On that fateful 18th day of April in 1986, Sharma’s probably committed the biggest sin of his life. With four runs needed in one ball, Sharma gave a low, meaty full toss to a batsman who had scored a hundred already and that too from Pakistan. It was deservedly sent straight over the fence. In India some faint hearted died, many million hearts stopped and across the border, the nation went into a frenzy seeing the celebrations of Tauseef Ahmed and Miandad. His entire career’s hardwork was undone with this, and all his life Sharma will be known as the man whom Miandad hit for a last ball six.
KAPIL PAAJI DA JAWAAB NAHI
It was a skippers’ special Test at Lord’s in the last week of July 1990. First Graham Gooch hit a career best 333, Mohammed Azharuddin in reply struck an enterprising, wristy hundred. But then there was a certain, Paaji, the original one, who made it a match to remember, though India went on to lose.
At 430/9, Kapil was left with Narendra Hirwani, his last partner. The Azhar-led side still needed 24 runs to avoid the follow-on. Knowing that if Hirwani was given the strike, he would be exposed and the follow on would be effective then. Kapil was on strike against off-spinner Eddie Hemmings. The first two deliveries were treated with utmost respect. But the last four were treated with utter disdain. Kapil decided to take the matter in his hands.
He struck four consecutive sixes, each time bigger and in some style saw-off the follow-on. His pump fist after the fourth one and the rapturous standing ovation from the Lord’s balcony and members stand said a lot about what Haryana Hurricane did.
AND THEN CAME RAJESH CHAUHAN
It was not a match to be remembered for the right reasons, but two off-spinners will remember it all their life. Saqlain Mushtaq and Rajesh Chauhan, even in their deepest slumbers will recollect what happened on September 30, 1997 in Karachi.
The match was hauled up and how, many times for spectators pelting stones. Batting first, Pakistan were stopped at 47 overs and a score of 266. While chasing, Sourav Ganguly replied with the same force with which he was hit with a stone. But then it all came down to that one last over which defined the match. Needing 8 off the last over, Singh, running out of partners, had tail ender Chauhan for company.
Saba Karim had just departed after a fruitful 62-run stand and India’s chances were only getting dim. But Chauhan had other plans. First ball of the last over by Saqlain, an attempted yorker length on leg side was pre-empted by Chauhan. He converted it into a full toss and sent it soaring over midwicket boundary for a maximum, with that he also sealed the issue in the visitors’ favour.
KLUSENER DOES A JAVEDBHAI
His reputation of a match-winner with the willow in hand probably started from here onwards. Probably other bowlers and teams, except for the Kiwis, across the world didn’t realise that this wasn’t Lance Klusener’s flash in the pan moment. He went on to turn matches on their heads single-handedly and how many times.
In this rain-shortened match against New Zealand in Napier on March 26, 1999, South Africa were asked to chase 192 for a win in stipulated 40 overs. Herschelle Gibbs and Daryl Cullinan set the platform with a wonderful joint venture of 88 runs for the 3rd-wicket. But the Proteas, famous for their choking ways, were in deep hole as they collapsed from 107/3 in 23.2 overs to 162/7 in 37.2 overs.
The equation read 30 runs to win in 16 balls. And the man, Klusener, was in the centre in company of Mark Boucher. The equation came down to eleven in one over and all hell broke loose when Boucher was dismissed on the 2nd ball of the last over. But Klusener was least fluttered.
Needing four of the last ball, Dion Nash, who was entrusted to finish the job for Kiwis attempted a Yorker which went all wrong. Klusener pounced on the low full toss to send it over the fence for a max and level the series.
DAVID SLAYS GOLIATH
This is cricket’s real David slays Goliath story. Bangladesh were chasing 250, an imposing total by their standards, especially playing against World Champions. Mohammed Ashraful could not have imagined a better occasion to score his maiden ODI century. It would have been fitting had he scored the winning runs but never mind.
With three overs left, 23 runs needed, Ashraful was caught trying to clear long on off Jason Gillespie. But his teammate Aftab Ahmed had the same intensity with which Ashraful batted. And in fact he succeeded and how, in doing what Ashraful failed at. With seven needed off one over and five wickets in hand, Ahmed showed displayed balls of steel by hitting Gillespie wide over long on for a six and getting the scores level. A frantic single off the next ball gave Bangladesh its tenth win in 108 ODIs that they had played till then.
One of the many blots on Ricky Ponting’s captaincy career was his side’s defeat in Cardiff on June 18, 2005. “This is probably one of the biggest upsets in the history of cricket, and my worst defeat as captain,” were Ponting’s words after the match.
YES, CHANDERPAUL TOO DID IT... YES CHANDERPAUL!!!
Of all the people in the world, a normally sedate and boring Shivnarine Chanderpaul did the unthinkable. From April 10, 2008, the world started looking at Chanderpaul differently. Chasing a not so difficult 236, West Indies were going strong on 109 for the loss of Dwayne Smith only. But soon skipper Chris Gayle was undone by mysterious Ajantha Mendis for 52. Ramnaresh Sarwan and Marlon Samuels went away in a whiff. But it was Dwayne Bravo’s run out which ensured Lankans were on their way to a win. Chanderpaul was there but.
As expected, Chanderpaul was struggling to send the ball to the fence. But it looked as if he had reserved his best for the end. The last ball of the 49th over was clipped for a boundary. The wily Chaminda Vaas was to bowl the last over as 13 runs were required. Three came of first four balls. Cool-headed Chanderpaul then creamed a drive through mid-off. Then what is called the stuff of dreams happened. Needing six to win, Vaas, like Chetan Sharma, Dion Nash, bowls a low full toss which Chanderpaul, like Miandad and Klusener sends it over deep midwicket boundary for an astonishing win for the home side.