Hitting a six in a cricket match gives a high to any batsmen. Former swashbuckling Indian opener Virender Sehwag loved to hit sixes whether he was on 9 or 299. Another player with the ability to seemingly hit sixes at will, is the explosive West Indian batsman Chris Gayle, the self-proclaimed 'Universe Boss'.
Cricket is replete with many famous instances of established platers hitting last-ball sixes to win games.Javed Miandad depositing Chetan Sharma over the ropes in an ODI in Sharjah in 1986 instantly comes to mind. In more recent times, Dinesh Karthik hit Soumya Sarkar for a flat six to take India to a victory over Bangladesh in the 2018 Nidahas Trophy final in Colombo.
However, there have been a few occasions in limited-overs cricket when lesser-known players hit a last-ball six to clinch wins for their respective teams. In this feature, we take a look at three such players who scored a maximum off the last ball to pull their respective teams over the finish line.
#1. Zulfiqar Babar vs West Indies (1st T20I in Kingstown, 2013)
At the age of 34, Pakistan’s Zulfiqar Babar made the most astonishing of debuts. With the ball, the slow left-arm orthodox bowler picked up 3 for 23 in his four overs after West Indies batted first. Babar first clean bowled Lendl Simmons, then had Marlon Samuels caught and bowled, before sending back Dwayne Bravo for 25. However, his most significant contribution was to come later in the game.
Coming back to the West Indies’ innings, after Babar’s strikes had them reeling at 98 for 5, Kieron Pollard’s unbeaten 49 and skipper Daren Sammy's whirlwind 30 from 14 balls lifted the hosts to a respectable 152 for 7.
In reply, Pakistan slumped to 145 for 7 despite another debutant, Umar Amin, scoring 47, and Shahid Afridi’s innings of 46. Needing six runs off the last over bowled by Marlon Samuels, a cover-driven first-ball boundary by Babar further reduced the equation down to two of five balls.
However, a few dot balls ensued, and Saeed Ajmal's run-out off the penultimate ball meant that Pakistan needed a single off the last ball to seal the win.
Facing a low full-toss from Samuels, Babar had no qualms getting under the ball and depositing it over the long-off boundary. For his unbeaten innings of 13 off 17 balls, and his three-wicket haul earlier in the game, Babar was adjudged the Man of the Match after a sensational debut performance.
#2. Chamara Kapugedara v India (World T20 in Gros Islet, 2010)
Chamara Kapugedara had a rather underwhelming international career for Sri Lanka, averaging under 22 in ODIs, and under 23 in T20Is. However, he would forever remember the 2010 World T20 group encounter against India in Gros Islet, where he managed to put up a rare display of his true potential.
Batting first, India had posted a challenging total of 163 for 5 on the board courtesy Suresh Raina’s 63, and an innings of 41 from opener Gautam Gambhir. Lasith Malinga’s 2 for 25 meant that the 2008 champions did not garner more.
With three overs to go, Sri Lanka were in a spot of bother, needing 41 runs to win. However, Mathews took Piyush Chawla for a couple of fours in the 18th over while Kapugedera clattered consecutive sixes off Vinay Kumar in the 19th to bring down the equation to 13 off six.
The experienced Ashish Nehra was entrusted the bowling responsibility for the last over. However, the left-armer's first delivery, a full toss, was smashed over long-off for a maximum by Mathews. The batsman, though, was run out off the penultimate ball with three runs needed, leaving Kapugedera to go for glory off the last ball.
He grabbed the opportunity to grab headlines by charging down the track, and carving Nehra for a six over sweeper cover. Kapugedera remained unbeaten on 37 from 16 balls, scoring at a strike rate of 231.25.
#3. Ryan McLaren vs New Zealand (3rd ODI at Potchefstroom, 2013)
Graeme Smith and Quinton de Kock added 83 runs for the opening wicket, in reply. The hosts seemed to be cruising at 122 for 1 in the 27th over. When Smith was eventually dismissed, caught behind off Kane Williamson for 116, the game was in the balance at 229 for 6.
At the other end, Ryan McLaren managed to find a couple of boundaries to keep the Proteas in the hunt, but the flow of wickets at the other end hindered their progress. The game reached a knife's edge, with eight runs needed off the last over, and two wickets in hand.
James Franklin kept things extremely tight, and conceded only five runs off the first four balls. On the fifth, Dale Steyn’s slog landed in the hands of Elliot at cow corner. South Africa now needed three to win off the last delivery as McLaren came on strike. Facing a short ball from the left-armer, McLaren managed to get inside the line of the ball before lifting it for a six over the long-leg fence.
The last-ball victory prevented a series whitewash for South Africa.