Some say cricket is a great leveler - one day you're on top of the world and the next day, you might be languishing at the bottom of the barrel. It's a game of glorious uncertainties where one team's, or player's, fairy tale is another's nightmare.
One such instance came on September 19, 2007 when Yuvraj Singh launched a thunderous onslaught on England’s Stuart Broad with six consecutive sixes in an over at Kingsmead, Durban in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 to blaze his way into the record books. It was the fourth time in the history of cricket, but first in T20s, that a batsman hit a six on each of the six balls of the over. It was, needless to say, an exhibition of thrilling strokeplay.
In a must-win match, Yuvraj strode to the crease after Robin Uthappa's dismissal with India 155 for 3 in 16.4 overs. Only 20 balls were remaining and India were eying a total of around 185-190. Yuvraj caned the second ball he faced for four over the covers to get off the mark. In the next over, he bludgeoned two more boundaries off Andrew Flintoff and raced to 14 off six balls. As the over finished, Flintoff reeled off a few colourful remarks which would come back to haunt his team, in an attempt to unsettle Yuvraj. Both cricketers were seen exchanging hot words. Flintoff's churlish demeanor spurred Yuvraj on and what followed was nothing short of a pogrom.
Yuvraj dispatched Broad's first ball over midwicket for a massive six and the ball landed outside the stadium. The second ball was imperiously flicked behind square for another maximum. On the third ball, Yuvraj gave himself room and carved the ball over the covers.
The stadium was buzzing with delirious excitement as TV cameras captured the images of Flintoff wincing in deep anguish. Broad then came around the stumps and sent down a wide full toss outside off stump which was slashed over backward point for Yuvraj’s fourth six.
The crowd anticipated that history was on the cards and their cheering grew louder with every passing second. Broad was sweating profusely, unable to come to terms with this mauling. He again went over the stumps for the fifth ball, but Yuvraj went down on one knee and clubbed the ball over midwicket for his fifth six. While the crowd was jubilant, England looked completely shattered. On air, Ravi Shastri, one of the four batsmen to have hit six sixes in an over, was in raptures. On the ground, it appeared Broad had thrown in the towel as he half-heartedly ran to deliver the last ball.
Yuvraj proceeded to larrup a half-volley for over midwicket as the stadium went berserk. The Indian squad, sitting on the fence, stood up and raucously lauded Yuvraj, who reached his half-century in 12 balls, the fastest in Twenty20 internationals. His 16-ball 58 would play the decisive role in India’s 18-run win.
For Yuvraj, it was an admission of relief because a couple months earlier he had been on the receiving end of England allrounder Dimitri Mascarenhas’ onslaught, with five sixes coming off his last over in an ODI. But that didn’t leave room for arrogance; in fact, he felt sorry for Broad.
"I was the one who got hit for five sixes in The Oval game. So it is a horrible feeling, but at the end of the day, I am not really a bowler. But Stuart is a regular bowler and I feel sorry for him. You have some good and bad days as a bowler. But, personally, it is a great feeling to hit six sixes off the main bowler. And I thank God for it."
In many ways, Yuvraj's heroics were a precursor for a golden period of Indian cricket. That dazzling display lifted the morale of the team and it went on to win the tournament toppling South africa, Australia and Pakistan in the process. Earlier in the year India had been knocked out of the 50-over World Cup, but by winning the World Twenty20 the mood was uplifted hugely.
And fans had Yuvraj to thank.