Cricket is an intriguing game. It can take us up to the brim on our good days and slump us down on the bad ones. Nevertheless, there have been cases when we play our heart out, do everything it takes to win the match but somehow the opposition finds its way to survive. Then there are those days when we see a flat deck, win the toss and bat really well but only to find out that the opposition batted better and kept us lingering on the field. Therefore, in this edition, we look at some of the longest duration for which different teams were forced to stay on field:
Test matches are regarded with a lot of reverence as it pulls us out of our comfort zone and tests our infallibility until the last ball of the day. Such was the case in the historic test match between England and South Africa on December 26, 1999, when the entire Durban was a spectator to something we normally do not witness. England captain won the toss and decided to bat. The batsmen did a decent job by putting up 366 on the board. It was time for the home team to stitch together and look for the first innings lead.
However, they crippled under the wrath of Andrew Caddick who eventually finished the game with the figures of 48 for 7 in his 16 overs and bundled the Proteas into a mere 156.The home team were forced to follow within hours of their first innings and were staring at a certain defeat. Nevertheless, little did the Englishmen know that the humble Gary Kirsten is coming out to play the innings of his life. He went on for 642 balls scoring a sensational 275 and stayed out there for 878 minutes. He batted the Englishmen out of the test match and made sure that the visitors spent a total of 1112 minutes on the field before the match was called off as a draw. It was certainly one of the most remarkable innings played in the game and will be remembered for a long time.
When the captain scores the highest score ever in a test match and makes 750 runs, the team at least tries to win the test match for him. Nonetheless, sometimes even the best is also not good enough, and that is what happened with the West Indies, when they took on England for the last match of the series on 10th April 2004. The English lads were exhausted from the score on the scoreboard and the sheer brilliance of Lara’s 400 and as expected they were outplayed by Pedro Collins and company and were restricted to 285.
The West Indies efforts seemed to take them to their first win of the series. However, it was the turn of the visitors to pull up their socks and show some fight for the first time in the test match. They went in and applied themselves perfectly, this time; the English captain Michael Vaughan leading from the front. They battled for one and a half days keeping the home team on the field for 1012 minutes and eventually saving the test match. Taking nothing away from the England team, it was one of those test matches where luck did not entirely favour the Caribbean’s and we especially tend to feel bad for Brian Charles Lara.
We always tend to like the mentality and attitude with which the New Zealand team plays the game. No matter which format it is, they love to come out and be expressive rather than waiting for the opposition to commit a mistake. There is always a risk of backfiring when you play the longest format with such a mindset, but they like taking their chances. Moreover, when New Zealand captain won the toss and chose to bat against the Indians on 26th March 2009, Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder made sure that New Zealand could score enough to bowl India out twice.
New Zealand went on to score 619 for 9 and it took them 154 overs i.e. 5 sessions to score that many runs. Indians, on the other hand, lowered their guards easily and barely survived 93 overs. The test match was heading towards a fourth-day finish. On the contrary, it was Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid, who defended each ball, in order to stave off defeat for as long as possible. Indians somehow managed to survive day 4 and the concentration and commitment of Gambhir infused enough confidence in the Indians to go on and bat out the remaining period of the test match. They batted for almost three and a half days and came out from the claws of defeat to earn a hard fought draw. True, we Indians can come up with really unbelievable things when nothing much is expected from us.
The Indians looked comfortably poised when they scored 537 against the Sri Lankans on 2nd August 1997. The Indians got an early breakthrough in the form of Marvan Atapattu and fancied dominating the third day. However, Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama had some other ideas. The duo batted for two complete days with indomitable confidence making them the first unbreakable partners for two days.
It can forever be postulated that the pitch had nothing for the bowlers, but batting for two complete days take an exceptional amount of effort and fitness especially in the Sri Lankan heat. Eventually, Jayasuriya was dismissed at 340, being only 35 short of the highest individual score in test matches for that time. Nevertheless the duo of Jayasuriya and Mahanama batted for 799 minutes and 753 minutes respectively making sure that the visiting neighbours were forced to field for close to 980 minutes. The game ended without any second innings play as the Sri Lankans scored an enormous 952 at the end of the fifth day.
Pakistan has been a venue where the batsmen are the ones with smiles on their faces. Nevertheless,it is only fair when the pitches have something both for the batsman and the bowler so that the game moves towards being more result oriented. Sri Lanka tour of Pakistan in 2009 is more famous for the wrong reasons than the right ones, as it effectively remains as the last series played on the Pakistani soil till date. Moreover, cricketing wise, it further exacerbated the situation, which are leading to decreasing reputation for test cricket.
We certainly feel that the game is going nowhere when we see a triple century in reply to a couple of double centuries. It was February 21, 2009 and Sri Lankans happily found themselves at 644 in 155 overs, thanks to two fabulous double centuries from the veterans Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Nevertheless, the men from Pakistan knew that they only need to stay out there and they would be fine. Furthermore, Younus Khan decided to use this opportunity to register his first triple century. He along with Kamran Akmal made sure that the Lankans occupied the field till day 5 and the second innings was only a formality. Certainly, it was a game where very little could be done as a bowler and you would hope that your batsmen bat long enough to tire the opposition out.