Gary Sobers did it in 1968. Who watched cricket then? Ravi Shastri did it in 1985, but isn’t he the same guy who was welcomed with chants of ‘shame shame’ because he scored slowly? Herschelle Gibbs did it earlier that year, but that was against Netherlands - associate nation, poor bowling attack.
So when it was Yuvraj Singh’s turn to repeat the feat in September 2007, it had to be something massive. It had to be against a strong team, it had to be in cricket’s showpiece event and it had to get the populist treatment it deserved.
“I’ll cut your throat” it all started with a jibe from Andrew Flintoff. Flintoff had already finished his over, Yuvraj had hit him for a couple, but he was done. Two overs remained; India was on track to finish at 180-arounds. The jibe could have been avoided. But there it was in the batsman’s earshot.
That Stuart Broad over will forever stay in the fans' memory, just like the Axe Signature line of body perfumes that don't fade away. Let's take a look at 'that' over:
#1 One down, five to go
After a fist bump with Dhoni, Yuvraj walks up to Flintoff. Heated words are exchanged; Billy Doctrove tries to control the southpaw, but Yuvraj is in no mood to listen. He gesticulates aggressively towards Flintoff, bat in hand.
He goes back to take strike. In the meanwhile, a baby-faced Stuart Broad is at the start of his run-up. He runs in, bowls fullish outside off, and whack. The high backlift, a bat-flow that makes a lovely arc and off the ball goes into cow corner. The ball is lost; people are jumping up and down. One down, five to go.
#2 Two down, four to go
Broad wipes his forehead with his wrist band and walks back to the top of his mark. He runs in again, lands the ball straightish on good length. Yuvraj flicks his wrists, barely any follow through. The ball disappears over deep-square leg, hitting the roof of the far stand. “Just a flick, nothing more...” screams David Llyod.
The cameras pan to Flintoff, visibly distraught, shaking his head. He must be regretting his decision of taking on Yuvraj in the manner in which he did. There’s a sense of disbelief in the English camp, will Flintoff shake his head for years to come?
#3 Three down, three to go
Broad is nervous as hell. It’s still early days for him in international cricket and banter hasn’t always paid him off well. He tried muttering something to veteran Sourav Ganguly at the Oval a few weeks back, and got a mouthful in return along with a six over long-on.
This time, he is bowling to a younger, more aggressive Indian left-hander, charged up for someone else’s comments. There’s a crescendo in the background, the Indian expatriate community in Durban is making a lot of noise.
Broad charges in to bowl the next delivery. It’s pitched up, full, outside off. Yuvraj takes his front foot out of the way and hoiks it over long-off. A hat-trick of sixes!
#4 Four down, two to go
The tension is palpable; Broad is licking his upper-lip, nervousness apparent. There’s a change of side - Now he is coming from round the wicket. 18 runs have come off three deliveries, can things get any worse?
Broad follows up his previous delivery with a high full toss, well outside off. Yuvraj swats it over backward point. Maximum. “It’s four in a row,” screams Ravi Shastri. Broad turns around and walks back helpless. Captain Paul Collingwood comes up to him, and discusses something, maybe suggesting where to bowl. Broad looks on in disbelief, cluelessness written all over his face. A change in field follows.
#5 Five down, one to go
Broad is back to over the wicket, 24 runs have come off four deliveries, surely now it’s going to stop. It’s full and in Yuvraj’s zone, Yuvraj runs his blade over the ball. The tiny object goes flying into the night sky, over the fielder between long-on and mid-wicket and into the stands. Broad is smiling; he knows there’s just one delivery left to bowl. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, reason to be relieved.
The Indian dug-out is delighted, every member from support staff to players, is on his feet, clapping, wildly cheering. Captain MS Dhoni is at the non-striker’s end, with the best seat in the house. India are headed towards a total that would be very difficult to chase down.
#6 Six in six, total mayhem
Now it’s about the final delivery. Yuvraj is crouching slightly; focus is on the final delivery. Ravi Shastri, the man who did it in 1985 in a domestic game, is on air. The delivery is similar to the first one, on the off-stump, full length and Yuvraj hits it like never before. “Yes, into the crowd,” exclaims Ravi Shastri.
The ball is in the stands. Yuvraj has scored 36; He has also hit 50 off 12 deliveries. Broad’s horror has ended. Simon Taufel who has had to lift his hands six times, lets out a wry smile while returning Broad’s cap.
Six sixes will now be how Yuvraj will be remembered for the rest of his career. It will be a thing of folklore, it will be what Broad will be reminded of every time he faces India.
It’s something legends are made up off. Indian cricket’s crown prince unleashed destruction in Durban. Who knows what would have happened had Flintoff not made the jibe? But one thing is for sure, Indian cricket would have been deprived of its greatest memory in recent years.