Kapil Dev’s four consecutive sixes off Eddie Hemmings remains a remarkable feat in the history of Test matches between India and England. In the modern era of cricket smashing four sixes in a row is not a big accomplishment but to do so in a Test match, 28 years ago, and that too to avoid the follow-on makes the former India captain’s effort even more magnanimous.
It was the first Test of India’s tour of England in 1990. The visitors had won the toss and opted to field first. However, the decision backfired as England posted a mammoth 633 in first innings. Skipper Graham Gooch scored a brilliant triple hundred while Allan Lamb and Robin Smith hit fine centuries of their own. India replied strongly with hundreds by Ravi Shastri, Mohammad Azharuddin, and Dilip Vengsarkar contributing with a half-century. However, the efforts were still proving insufficient to avoid follow-on. At 430/9 India needed 24 more runs to avoid the follow-on. With one wicket in hand and Narendra Hirwani for company, Dev knew the onus was on him to wipe out the deficit.
After playing out the first two balls, Dev launched a brutal assault on Hemmings and dispatched him for four consecutive sixes. Each of the four sixes were hit straight over bowler’s head. All the maximums were smashed towards the long on region as the England team could only watch in awe. Hirwani was out on the next ball and India had just avoided potentially being put into bat again. Kapil Dev remained unbeaten on 77 and his indomitable spirit had saved India.