India 218-4, England 200-6 (India win by 18 runs): Homeward-bound England hit for six

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The Independent Online

Yuvraj Singh last night added his name to a list that previously contained only Sir Garfield Sobers, Ravi Shastri and Herschelle Gibbs. Stuart Broad, on the other hand, joined another trio: Malcolm Nash, Tilak Raj and Daan van Bunge.

The first bunch are the batsmen who have hit six sixes in an over in senior cricket. The second are the bowlers who were on the receiving end. There may be more instances if Twenty20 takes off, as seems certain, but Yuvraj's sequence of hits for India in the 19th over against England last night was probably the most spectacular example.

The manner of it was as remarkable as the statistical element, and from the third ball on there was an air of inevitability to it. If Broad lost his composure as the over wore on, it was entirely understandable.

Yuvraj batted as a man who recognised he could put the ball anywhere. He was in what sportsmen like to call the second zone and the ball was being propelled into any zone he wished.

The first ball went out of the ground over long on, the second was flicked disdainfully over backward square leg, the third was smashed through extra cover as the batsman stepped away. The fourth, delivered from round the wicket, was a full toss which was dispatched to the backward point area, the fifth went to midwicket, and the sixth was more or less back where it started.

Broad was searching for one simple yorker but it proved utterly elusive. Still, had he unleashed one, it was probable that Yuvraj would have nailed that too, so urgently was he moving round the crease. It took India to a total of 218, all but unassailable and if England's reply of 200 for six was their best batting display of the tournament it was also their fourth consecutive defeat.

It is possible that Yuvraj's blazing display was provoked not only by India's need to increase their run rate but also by a row with Andrew Flintoff at the end of the 18th over, though Yuvraj put it down to usual combative sport.

Yuvraj's exhibition came a fortnight after he himself was struck for five consecutive sixes by Dimitri Mascarenhas of England in a one-day international at The Oval. "I got so many calls after that from people making fun of me," he said. "I said to God that this is not right and will you please give it back to me. I guess he gave it back to me today."

The great Sobers performed his feat in a low key County Championship match for Nottinghamshire against Glamorgan, Shastri for Bombay against Baroda in the Ranji Trophy and they remain the only instances in first-class cricket. Gibbs struck six sixes for South Africa against The Netherlands in the World Cup earlier this year.

The bowlers concerned were bowling off spin, slow left armers and leg spin. Broad is thus the first seamer to be struck for 36 in a six ball over. He will probably not be the last.

England started the match knowing they were already out, South Africa having beaten New Zealand earlier in the day. There was, as so often lately in international tournaments, only pride to play for. India had to win to keep their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals alive.

It must be the first time that England have failed so lamentably in three competitions within a year, this following their poor displays in the Champions Trophy in India and the World Cup in the West Indies.

Their reply was at least valiant but nobody made the big score that was necessary. All they really demonstrated was that Twenty20 now belongs to the world.

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