West Indies limited overs captain Kieron Pollard became only the third person in international cricket to score six sixes in a single over, as he blasted Sri Lanka spinner Akila Dananjaya for a record spell at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua.
Pollard finished with a match-winning 38 runs from 11 balls, as the West Indies recovered from a precarious position to beat the tourists by four wickets in the first of three CG Insurance T20 International contests on the island.
Sri Lanka were put in to bat and managed 131 for nine wickets with Pathum Nissanka (39 from 34) and Niroshan Dickwella (33 from 29) leading the scorers. Obed McCoy was the pick of the West Indies bowlers with two wickets for 25.
In reply, the hosts got off to a roaring start with 52 off the first 19 balls thanks to openers Evin Lewis (28) and Lendl Simmons (26). Dananjaya threatened to spoil the party with a remarkable hattrick, as he removed Lewis, veteran Chris Gayle (0) and Nicholas Pooran (0) in the space of three balls.
West Indies were 54-3.
But Pollard saw his team to 100 for six off just 49 balls, bringing Dananjaya back to earth in extraordinary fashion. First, he hit a huge slog-sweep over long-on, which cleared the boundary by some distance. He sent the bowler’s full-ish second delivery sailing straight back over his head and onto the sight-screen, while the third was smashed over wide long-off.
“I felt I could hit six sixes after the third one,” said Pollard, in the post-game press conference. “I did it in the Super 50 as well. I just backed myself.”
‘Polly’ hit the fourth over wide long-on. His left hand came off the bat for the fifth but he still had enough power to muscle the ball over the leg-side boundary.
“Once I had five sixes, I knew I had the bowler on the back foot,” said Pollard. “He was going around the wicket and it was difficult for him. I just told myself: go for it.”
And the Trinidadian finished the job with an effortless flick over deep midwicket, before celebrating with a bow.
It was the first time in 14 years that anyone managed the feat in international cricket. South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs was the first to hit six sixes in international competition, when he ran amok against The Netherlands’ Dan van Bunge at the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup, while India’s Yuvraj Singh replicated his effort against England’s Stuart Broad at the 2007 ICC World T20 tournament.
There was no stopping the West Indies thereafter, as the hosts won with 41 balls remaining—as Jason Holder fittingly ended the contest with a six over wide long on.
“If hitting sixes is our strength, we want to capitalise on our strengths,” said Pollard, who credited the West Indies bowlers for restricting Sri Lanka to 132. “The series is going to be their spinners against our batters. We’re not going to hide from that reality.
“It’s about time that we start winning games. We’ve tried to give guys opportunities with an eye on the World Cup. But we need to win cricket games, so we have to balance it.”
West Indies and Sri Lanka meet in the second T20 from 6pm on Friday evening at the same venue.