The immediate problem facing Akbar was to deal with the rising power of Hemu, the Prime Minister of Mohammad Shah Adali of Bengal. On hearing the news of the death of Humayun, Hemu marched towards Agra and captured the same.
Then he moved on to Delhi. Tardi Beg, the Mughal Governor, retired from that place and the city fell into the hands of Hemu who entered it as King Vikramajit. Hemu was a man of extraordinary personality. He was a Baniya by birth and he started his career as a shopkeeper.
By sheer dint of hard work and honesty of purpose, he became a chaudhry in his own circle. This brought him into contact with the Government officials who introduced him into the Court of the Sultan. Within a short period, Hemu won the confidence of his master who employed him in different capacities. He proved himself to be a great administrator and general. No wonder, he became the right hand man of Muhammad Shah Adali. He won for him battles and conquered territories. Akbar had to deal with such a shrewd and ambitious man.
Undoubtedly, Akbar was in a desperate position. The expulsion of Tardi Beg added to the fears of his followers. In spite of that he accepted the advice of Bairam Khan and decided to give battle to Hemu. In order to create an impression on his follower, Tradi Beg was executed.  The armies of Hemu and Akbar met on the historic battle-field of Panipat in November, 1556. At that time, a severe famine was going on at Delhi and in the neighbouring territory. To begin with, Hemu seemed to carry the day. However, he was struck in the eye by an arrow and he became unconscious. This was a turning point in the battle.
The leaderless Afghan army fled away and 1,500 war elephants and other booty fell into the hands of Akbar and Bairam Khan. Hemu was captured and brought before Akbar and Bairam Khan. According to Smith, “Akbar smote the prisoner on the neck.” Arif Kandhari, a contemporary writer, supports this view. However, According to Dr. Srivastava, “Abul Fazl’s statement that Akbar refused to kill an already dying man, is obviously wrftng.”
It cannot be said that the defeat of Hemu was the result of a mere accident. He himself was also partly responsible for it. He ought to have taken the offensive against the Mughals immediately after the withdrawal of Tardi Beg when his stock was very high and the followers of Tardi Beg were clamouring for retreat to Kabul.
Moreover, when Hemu decided to send his army to the Punjab, he did not plan the same after due deliberations. Foolishly, he sent most of his artillery along with the vanguard. The result was that the artillery was captured by Ali Quli and that raised the morale of the Mughals and disheartened the Afghans under Hemu. Hemu also committed the mistake of directing the movements of his troops in person in the battle-field itself. He foolishly exposed himself by seating himself on an elephant.
The result was that he was personally injured and that decided the fate of the battle. His elephant driver also made the mistake. Instead of carrying his master to a safe place within the army of his master, he tried to carry him away from the field of battle. This enabled Ali Quli to capture Hemu. Hemu also made another mistake in not providing for leadership of the army in the event of his death or incapacitation by injury. The result was that as soon as he was removed from the field of battle, the fate of the battle was decided.
The ambitions of Hemu also were responsible for his defeat. Hemu himself wanted to become king and the result was that his master Adil Shah stayed back in the east. It is rightly pointed out that’if Adil Shah had been present at Panipat there would have been no stampede of the Afghans even after the capture of Hemu and it would not have been possible for the Mughals to win a victory.
The Second Battle of Panipat was of far-reaching importance. The Mughals got a decisive victory over the Afghans. The Afghan pretensions to the sovereignty of India were gone once for all. Delhi and Agra were occupied.