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The Elite ODI Sixers Club

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Six_Sixer_ODI_Cricket_PlayersSouth Africa’s superstar batsman AB de Villiers recently became the sixth player in ODI cricket history to hit 200 sixes. In his marauding knock of 176 against Bangladesh at Paarl, de Villiers smacked 7 sixes and became the newest entrant in the exclusive club of ODI batsmen with 200 sixes.

The style of hitting sixes is unique to every batsman. And de Villiers, who himself is a phenomenal hitter of the ball, has joined a list of batsmen who are famed for their ability to clear the ropes at will.

Here we look at the six ODI batsmen with over 200 sixes and what makes them stand out.

Shahid Afridi (Pakistan) – 351 sixes:

If there is one thing for which Shahid Afridi will always be remembered, even fifty years from now, it will be his ability to smite colossal sixes. It was why he earned that famed sobriquet, ‘Boom-Boom Afridi’. Incidentally, in his first match as a batsman, Afridi went on to smash a record 11 sixes against Sri Lanka. He never looked back.

Though Afridi’s batting career dipped towards the end, his ability to smash those sixes never changed. Afridi was all about brute power and he backed the immense strength in his forearms to clear any boundary in the world with ease. Over the course of his long career, the Pakistani batsman has demolished many a bowling attack.

The thing with Afridi’s sixes was that they were extremely demoralizing for any bowler. He would lunge out and absolutely throw the kitchen sink at the ball, and clear the rope with ease. In 398 matches, Afridi clobbered an unbelievable 351 sixes. Currently, he is the only batsman in the world to have crossed 300 sixes in ODI cricket. It would take a humongous effort from any other batsman to even reach close to his tally.

Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka) – 270 sixes:

‘The Matara Marauder’ had wrists of steel. He could whip any ball of any length outside the park. And Sanath Jayasuriya would do that consistently once in flow. Perhaps his most memorable six-hitting barrage was that sensational 65-ball 134 against Pakistan at Singapore in 1996 where he creamed the hapless bowlers around the stadium for 11 massive sixes.

The Sri Lankan opener especially loved flicking the ball off his pads for spectacular sixes off fast bowlers and would smash spinners down the ground for towering sixers. He was also extremely brutal on anything short and wide and his ferocious cuts would generally sail over the backward point for flat sixes.

Jayasuriya never gave the impression that he was giving it his all in hitting those sixes, it was just that his wrists were so strong, the ball would travel the distance once he connected. In his illustrious ODI career, Jayasuriya struck 270 sixes in 445 matches.

Chris Gayle (West Indies) – 252 sixes:

Although Chris Gayle has not been in the best form of late, the impact he has had courtesy his mammoth sixes has been immense. The bat looks like a toy in Gayle’s giant hands while he is walloping the ball. He swats the ball away like a fly and his strong arms send the ball miles into the stands.

The West Indian opener never hits tiny sixes and has clouted even the fastest bowlers with absolute disdain outside the ground. Perhaps one of his most famous sixes was against Australian speedster Brett Lee at The Oval during the ICC World Twenty20: out of the park, over deep midwicket. There have been countless other bowlers whom Gayle has annihilated through his nonchalant sixes and at present he stands at 252 sixes from 268 ODIs.

MS Dhoni (India) – 213 sixes:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been known the world over for his six-hitting ability. Dhoni does not just smash the ball, he bludgeons it mercilessly. He does not hold back and no ground is too big for the man to clear.

At 36, Dhoni is at the tail end of his career and does not hit sixes as regularly as he used to – the 10 sixes he slammed against Sri Lanka back in 2005 in his career-best score of 183* are still fresh in memory. However, he still possesses enough power to hit long sixes occasionally.

Much like Jayasuriya, Dhoni has unusually strong wrists that allow him to clobber the balls with ease. Much like Afridi, he uses brute force well to send balls outside the park. Although not technically sound, Dhoni has always found ways to clear the boundary without difficulty. He pounces on anything that is remotely on length and generally loves smacking sixers over long-on and cow corner – quite like the six he hit to win India the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka at Mumbai.

As bowlers have pegged this comfort zone, they tend to bowl wider to him at the death these days, and he now clears his legs and slices the ball over deep cover for sixes as well. In 307 ODIs so far, Dhoni has struck 213 sixes.

AB de Villiers (South Africa) – 202 sixes:

There is a reason he is called Mr. 360. AB de Villiers can literally crunch any ball for six off any length and from any conceivable position. He is a freak, this man, the latest entrant into the 200 six club.

Over the last few years, the South African batsman has transformed his game remarkably and become a real terror for bowlers when in flow. He scoops the ball over fine-leg for six. He shuffles to the off-side and scythes the ball over deep square leg for six. He shifts to the leg side and strikes the ball over deep extra cover and long-off for sixes. And, sometimes, he stays in his crease, and simply creams the ball over long-on and cow corner for gargantuan sixes.

It is impossible to stop de Villiers when he gets going. And the ease with which he hits sixes and clears even the farthest of boundaries is simply sensational. After just 225 ODIs, de Villiers has already hit 202 sixes. By the time he is done, he will certainly be close to the 300 six mark.

Brendon McCullum (New Zealand) – 200 sixes:

Quite like de Villiers when it came to hitting sixes, New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum was quite the destroyer. What helped McCullum regularly pound sixes was his fearless attitude. Even if it was the fastest bowler in front of him, the Kiwi batsman always looked to dominate and never backed down.

McCullum loved dancing down the track and whacking bowlers long and hard straight down the ground. His preferred area was over long-on and deep midwicket. However, as bowlers learnt to bowl more yorkers to him, McCullum developed his own scoop shot to score sixes over fine leg against pacers.

The volley of sixes he hit against Australia’s Shaun Tait in a T20I at Christchurch in 2010 was simply extraordinary. McCullum repeatedly moved to the off-side and scooped Tait’s 150 km/h-plus screamers over long-stop for huge sixes. That is why McCullum was such a dangerous batsman to bowl to as he was always aggressive and extremely unpredictable while hitting those breathtaking sixes. In 260 ODI matches, McCullum struck 200 sixes.

Future members

The only batsman from the present generation who appears likely land up in this elite list is Rohit Sharma of India, who currently stands at 148 sixes from 170 games. He has developed an exceptional ability to clear the boundary with ease of late and should enter the 200 ODI sixes club in a short time.

 

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