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Feature

Six-sixes man Jaskaran Malhotra gives stop-start career a boost, and is now dreaming bigger

The USA batter is the fourth man to hit six sixes in an over in international cricket, after Gibbs, Yuvraj and Pollard

Daya Sagar
Daya Sagar
11-Sep-2021
Jaskaran Malhotra smashed six sixes in an over during his unbeaten 173, Papua New Guinea vs United States of America, 2nd ODI, Al Amerat, September 9, 2021

Jaskaran Malhotra became the fourth member of an elite list, of batters to hit six sixes in an over in international cricket  •  USA Cricket

As you would expect after equalling an international record previously achieved only by Herschelle Gibbs, Yuvraj Singh and Kieron Pollard, there are 4000-5000 unread WhatsApp messages on Jaskaran Malhotra's phone. One of the first to congratulate Malhotra after he hit six sixes in an over for USA against Papua New Guinea was Pollard, who was also his captain at St Lucia Stars during the 2018 edition of the CPL.
Like his more famous colleagues at the Stars from that year, like David Warner, Daren Sammy and Lendl Simmons, 31-year-old Malhotra aspires to play in the IPL one day, his early ambition of turning out for India having come to nothing. That said, there is pride and satisfaction of being a part of an improving USA outfit.
"It's quite amazing, really. I had not planned on any such thing when I went in to bat," Malhotra told ESPNcricinfo about his innings of 173* (in 124 balls, with four fours and 16 sixes), also the first ODI century in men's cricket for USA. "I entered the field with our team in a spot of bother, having lost three wickets for 29 inside the first ten overs. My first target was to just stay till the end. As the innings progressed, I got the confidence to play my shots.
"In the final over (bowled by the unfortunate Gaudi Toka), once I was able to hit four sixes, that's when the thought of six sixes first came in. I am grateful that I was able to equal this record."
Of the six sixes, which took USA to 271 for 9 and a 134-run win, Malhotra picked out the second as his best, having gone inside-out over cover. Shades of the third one Yuvraj had hit off Stuart Broad back in that 2007 T20 World Cup game there.
And though there has been a surfeit of messages and calls since September 9, the one Malhotra has been waiting for hasn't. "I know Yuvi paaji (Yuvraj) will also be calling me soon. I am eagerly looking forward to that."
It's a long way, that international fixture - his 13th across ODIs and T20Is - in Al Amerat from his formative years playing in Himachal Pradesh.
"I captained Himachal Pradesh at Under-15 and Under-17 levels. I was also the most prolific domestic wicketkeeper-batter at Under-17 level. In fact, I was rewarded with a place among the 20 probables for the Under-19 World Cup in 2008, and was part of the NCA camp," Malhotra said. "Unfortunately, I couldn't make the final 16, which won the tournament under Virat Kohli."
Malhotra did, however, find a place in the Himachal Pradesh senior team, but never got a look-in at the first-class level. A chance encounter with cricket in the USA came after the 2010 domestic season in India, when he was visiting a relative in America, ended up playing in a local tournament while there, and did well.
After that, there were invitations each year from cricket bodies in the USA, and simultaneously a drop in the likelihood of ever making it big in India.
In 2014, Malhotra decided to make his move to the USA. Permanently.
"I did dream of playing for India at the highest level, but playing for USA in international cricket has been very satisfying too," he said. "Cricket here is on the right track, and with possible inclusion at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, it will give us a chance to take on the best on a global stage quite soon.
"Besides this, we need to make the most of the qualifying rounds for World Cups in T20 and 50-over formats, so that we can get better exposure at the highest level."

Daya Sagar is sub editor in ESPNcricinfo @dayasagar95