Pakistan was led to their highest ever chase in test matches by Younus Khan, who played a mammoth 4th innings knock of 171 runs to lead his side to a historic win against Sri Lanka. Here is our selection of the best 4th innings knocks in Test matches.
10. Nathan Astle (New Zealand) – 222 v England, Christchurch, 2002
In a match which had previously seen Graham Thorpe getting the third fastest double century in Tests, Nathan Astle seemed to be in a hurry to get things rewritten. Needing 550 runs to win the match, New Zealand were 333 for 9 in the fourth innings; however, they lost by only 98 runs. Astle was on a roll as he smashed the fastest double century in Test cricket (153 balls) – he raced from 101 to 200 in a just 39 balls. In an innings with 28 fours and 11 sixes, he scored 222 off just 168 balls at a strike rate of 132.14.
9. Bruce Mitchell (South Africa) – 189* v England, London (The Oval), 1947
Bruce Mitchell would be proud of his performance in the match, for apart from scoring centuries in both innings, he also carried his bat in the second, nearly seeing South Africa through. Chasing 451 for victory, South Africa were 314 for 7. However, the opener ensured that no more wickets fell after that and took his team to 423 along with Lindsay Tuckett before the end of the match.
8. Sunil Gavaskar (India) – 96 v Pakistan, Bangalore, 1987
In his last Test, the great Sunil Gavaskar almost saw India home on a pitch that turned square. According to Wisden, “But on the fourth day, on a pitch which allowed even an off-spinner to bowl bouncers, Gavaskar gave a masterly exhibition of technique and judgement.” For 320 minutes – having faced 264 balls, he battled, and when India needed another 41 runs to win with 3 wickets in hand, Gavaskar fell for 96. Not too big a score, perhaps, but this innings is remembered as one of the best from the legend.
7. Faf du Plessis (South Africa) – 110 v Australia, Adelaide, 2012
In one of the most brilliant shows of resilience, Faf du Plessis scored a memorable century on debut – a century which saved the match for his team. South Africa, at 77 for 4 at the start of the last day, with a mountain of 430 runs to climb, were almost certain to lose; but with AB de Villiers, Faf formed a partnership that lasted 68 overs. South Africa could manage only 248, but that was irrelevant – with Faf standing still, they lost only four more wickets on the last day. Du Plessis remained unbeaten on 110 after playing 376 balls and staying at the crease for 466 minutes, salvaging a magnificent draw.
6. Neil Harvey (Australia) – 151 v South Africa, Durban, 1950
Reduced to 95 for 4, a target of 336 runs appeared too distant for Australia on a tough pitch. But Neil Harvey’s innings of 151 in 328 minutes took Australia home, with only 25 minutes to spare. The innings is widely thought to be an extraordinary one from the Australian batsman.
5. Faf du Plessis (South Africa) – 134 v India, Johannesburg, 2013
Set an improbable 458 runs to win, South Africa seemed to be on the verge of defeat at 197 for 4. But Faf du Plessis had different plans. Along with AB de Villiers (once again), he put up 205 runs for the fifth wicket, and brought the team within touching distance of a record chase. However, wickets at right intervals for India in the closing stages meant that the match would end in a thrilling draw. After battling for 395 minutes and 309 balls and having scored 15 boundaries, du Plessis was run out by Rahane for 134.
4. Gordon Greenidge – 214 v England, London (Lord’s), 1984
Chasing 342 runs is surely not a cakewalk, but when batsmen like Gordon Greenidge are on a rampage, it doesn’t seem to be anything less. It took West Indies just 66.1 overs to go past the target, courtesy of Greenidge’s 242-ball 214, with 29 fours and 2 sixes. At any point of time in Test cricket a strike rate of 88.42 is always great, and that is what makes this innings special.
3. Bill Edrich (England) – 219 v South Africa, Durban, 1939
In the last timeless match in cricketing history, spread over 12 days with 9 days of play, Bill Edrich’s 219 along with centuries from Paul Gibb and Wally Hammond almost handed England a victory when they were chasing a humongous 696 for victory. The match was drawn when England were at 654 for 5, else they might have missed their ship to home.
2. Sunil Gavaskar (India) – 221 v England, London (The Oval), 1979
“Little Master” Gavaskar was at his very best in the match. With India chasing 438 runs, he, along with Chetan Chauhan, set up an opening stand of 213 runs. In an innings studded with 21 boundaries, Gavaskar’s master class was difficult to contain, as he batted for 490 minutes before being dismissed by Ian Botham. India couldn’t win the match – they ended at 429 for 8, falling nine runs short of what would have been the highest successful chase in Tests.
1. Brian Lara (West Indies) – 153* v Australia, Barbados, 1999
Widely regarded as the greatest 4th innings knock ever played, Brian Lara steered his team to a memorable victory against Australia in 1999. Chasing 308 for victory, West Indies were reeling at 105 for 5, before Lara formed a 133-run partnership with Jimmy Adams for the sixth wicket. After that the Windies staggered again at 248 for 8, but a valiant effort coupled with sublime strokeplay from the master kept the team in the hunt and later won them the match with one wicket in hand.