Against Tamil Nadu at the 2024 Ranji Trophy, Abhishek Sharma became the fourth Indian player to hit five sixes in an over in first-class cricket.

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At Salem, Tamil Nadu posted 435, bowled out Punjab for 274, and enforced the follow-on with a day and a half to spare. Most teams would have exercised caution, but Punjab opener Sharma had other ideas.

He lost fellow opener Prabhsimran Singh in the fourth over, to Ajith Ram. At the other end, he went after Sai Kishore, hitting him for five sixes in an over. Ram snared Anmolpreet Singh, and Sai Kishore replaced himself with Pradosh Ranjan Paul, who removed Abhishek first ball, for a 16-ball 36 (one four, five sixes).

This ended a bizarre passage of cricket that resulted in five sixes, three wickets, seven dot balls, and nothing else. Nehal Wadhera slammed 109 in 107 balls, but Tamil Nadu needed a mere 71 at the end of it all. They won by eight wickets.

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However, former Indian cricketer Hemang Badani, who is currently fielding coach and head scout at Sunrisers Hyderabad, Abhishek’s IPL franchise, was unimpressed by the youngster’s approach.

The criticism notwithstanding, Abhishek became the fourth Indian, after Ravi Shastri (who hit six sixes), Reuben Paul, and Shivam Dube, and the 14th overall to hit five sixes in an over. Of the 14, Arthur Wellard and Ben Stokes have done this twice, while Malcolm Nash is the only bowler to be at the receiving end twice.

Five sixes in an over in first-class cricket

Six sixes in an over

Garry Sobers (Nottinghamshire) off Malcolm Nash (Glamorgan) – Swansea 1968
Ravi Shastri (Bombay) off Tilak Raj (Baroda) – Bombay (now Mumbai) 1984/85

Five sixes in an over

Arthur Wellard (Somerset) 0, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6 off Tommy Armstrong (Derbyshire) – Wells 1936
Arthur Wellard (Somerset) 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 1 off Frank Woolley (Kent) – Wells 1938
Denis Lindsay (South Africa Fezelas) 0, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6 off Bill Greensmith (Essex) – Chelmsford 1961
Majid Khan (Pakistanis) 6, 0, 6, 6, 6, 6 off Roger Davis (Glamorgan) – Swansea 1967
Mike Procter 6, 6, 6, 6, 6 (Western Province) off Ashley Mallett (Australians) – Cape Town 1969/70. Michael Bowditch took a single off the first ball.
Frank Hayes (Lancashire) 6, 4, 6, 6, 6, 6 off Malcolm Nash (Glamorgan) – Swansea 1977
Reuben Paul (Tamil Nadu) 6, 6, 6, 6, 6 off Raj Naik (Goa), Madras (now Chennai) 1995/96 – S Sharath took a single off the first ball.
Khalid Mahmood (Gujranwala) 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 2 off Naved Latif (Sargodha) – Gujranwala 2000/01
Justin Kemp (Eastern Province) 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 1 off Morne Strydom (North West) – Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha) 2000/01
Craig Spearman (Gloucestershire) 6, 6, 6, 6, 4, 6 Stephen Moreton (Oxford University Centre of Cricketing Excellence) – Oxford 2005
Ben Stokes (Durham) 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 1 off Liam Dawson (Hampshire) – Southampton 2011
Shivam Dube (Mumbai) 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 0 off Swapnil Singh (Baroda) – Mumbai 2018/19
Ben Stokes (Durham) 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 4 off Josh Baker (Worcestershire) – New Road 2022
Abhishek Sharma (Punjab) 6, 6, 0, 6, 6, 6 off Sai Kishore (Tamil Nadu) – Salem 2023/24

The list excludes instances of five sixes being hit under contrived circumstances, when both sides agreed to ‘joke’ bowling and fast scoring. The most famous of these was Bert Vance’s famous 77-run over to Lee Germon and Robert Ford that featured eight sixes. The other instances of five sixes in contrived matches are Matthew Maynard off Steve Marsh in 1992, Glenn Chapple off Tony Cottey in 1993, Barry Touzel off Frans Viljoen in 1993/94, and Trevor Jesty off Robin Boyd-Moss in 1984.