Joy of six for Yuvraj

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Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj swings Stuart Broad over deep mid-wicket for one of six sixes in an over © Getty Images

Yuvraj Singh became only the fourth man in history to hit six sixes in an over as India condemned England to an 18-run defeat in the ICC World Twenty20.

The all-rounder suffered the indignity of having his final five balls hit for six by Dimitri Mascarenhas in the last over of the sixth match of the NatWest Series at the Brit Oval.

But just 14 days later Yuvraj executed his revenge on England in style by hitting 36 off a Stuart Broad over, the penultimate over of the innings, as India posted a formidable 218 for four - the third highest total in Twenty20 internationals.

ICC Twenty20 World Cup

Though England - already knocked out of the tournament by virtue of South Africa’s victory over New Zealand earlier in the day - mounted an admirable chase, there is little doubt whose name was on the lips of all those packed into the ground at Durban.

Unlike Sir Garry Sobers and Ravi Shastri, who both achieved the feat in first-class cricket in front of a smattering of spectators, and Herschelle Gibbs' effort against Holland during this year’s World Cup before another sparse gathering, Yuvraj’s performance was delivered in front of a healthy 15,802 crowd.

Nearly every member of that crowd cheered every shot, with Broad being hit over long-on off the first ball, backward square-leg off the second and then over extra-cover to set up the prospect of a historic achievement.

The next delivery disappeared over backward point, the next over mid-wicket to send the crowd into a frenzy of expectation before Yuvraj finished off the feat in style by clubbing the final ball of the over over long-on.

Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj clears the backward point fence on his way to making history © Getty Images

In doing so, he brought up his half-century off only 12 balls, which included three fours and six sixes. Unsurprisingly, it was the fastest in international cricket history.

By the time he was out in the next over, caught at long-off attempting to drive Flintoff down the ground, he had hit 58 off 16 balls and dominated a fourth-wicket stand of 61 off only 19 deliveries.

Yuvraj's spectacular innings enabled India to reach a daunting total after the loss of three wickets in as many overs had undermined a positive start from openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

Deciding to bat first after winning the toss, India made a cautious start and had reached only 41 without loss at the end of the six overs of fielding restrictions.

But the introduction of Chris Tremlett, preferred to leg-spinner Chris Schofield for England's final match, in the seventh over sparked a change in emphasis and Sehwag went on to dominate a 136-run stand off only 88 balls.

Tremlett’s first delivery was upper-cut for six, but he gained his revenge by bowling Sehwag for 68 off 52 balls as he advanced down the wicket.

Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj acknowledges the applause for an astonishing 12-ball fifty © Getty Images

Tremlett also bowled Robin Uthappa in similar fashion in his next over while Gambhir was caught in the deep after hitting 58 off 41 balls to unite MS Dhoni and Yuvraj at the crease to provide the knockout blow.

Facing an almost impossible task, England began brightly as Darren Maddy and Vikram Solanki celebrated their second successive half-century stand.

Both fell to all-rounder Irfan Pathan attempting to keep up with the rate, but Kevin Pietersen maintained the momentum with a succession of meaty blows.

But, attempting to force a full toss from Harbhajan Singh through mid-wicket, Pietersen gave a sharp return catch to depart for 39 and further dent England's already slim hopes.

Owais Shah and Paul Collingwood fell in the space of three balls to left-arm seamer RP Singh and with one over remaining England, remarkably, needed 36 for victory.

Instead of Yuvraj's fireworks to finish their innings, however, Flintoff and Luke Wright were only able to add 17 as England’s campaign came to a disappointing end.

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