Test cricket is the heart and soul of our sport. Despite the growing interests in the slam-bang T20 action, Test cricket manages to garner plenty of eyes when miracles transpire especially towards the later stages of a Test match. There has never been a question about Test cricket’s entity and the incomparable joy that it brings to the purists who enjoy a hard tussle between bat and ball for the course of five days.
However, in recent times, Test cricket has witnessed some spectacular turn of events that has once again made the fans admire the beauty of this format. Fourth innings chases in a Test match are usually regarded as a tough art to master. Despite that fact, a few Tests in Australia and Bangladesh have alluded to changing times and perceptions as far as run chases are concerned in the longest format of the game.
Be it India’s heroic run-chase against Australia in Gabba or West Indies’ herculean effort to topple Bangladesh in their own backyard, the world has witnessed some remarkable successful run-chases in the fourth innings of a Test match.
Highest Successful Run-Chases in Test Cricket
Five successful run chases in Test Cricket History
5. West Indies vs Bangladesh – 395/7 at Chattogram, 2021
Bangladesh hosted a depleted West Indies outfit on their shores at the start of 2021 for a two-match Test series. A lot of key players were missing for the touring team including their skipper Jason Holder with reservations to travel the sub-continent during the COVID times. Despite being behind in the first innings, the visitors managed to script a marvelous win with a successful run chase in the fourth innings of the first Test.
The left-handed batsman Kayle Mayers, on debut, played one of the most significant innings of his life. He remained unbeaten on 210 in the fourth innings on a deteriorating pitch alongside Nkrumah Bonner, who played the second fiddle role with a fine 86-run knock. The tourists successfully chased down the target of 395 runs with three wickets to spare at the end of Day 5. In doing so, West Indies registered the fifth-highest successful run chase in the history of Test cricket.
4. India vs West Indies – 406/4 at Port of Spain, 1976
In one of the most memorable Test matches in Indian cricket history, the ‘Men in Blue’ achieved an unthinkable feat against West Indies in 1976 in an away fixture. In the third Test of India’s Tour of West Indies in 1976, the visitors were set a target of 404 for victory in the fourth innings. After what transpired in the first innings where India was bowled out for 228 in reply to the hosts’ 359, a West Indies win was simply on the cards.
However, what followed was a collective batting effort by the Indians which sent shock waves across the cricketing globe. The batting maestro Sunil Gavaskar (102) along with Gundappa Vishwanath (112) scored scintillating centuries to set the foundation for an improbable Indian win. The tourists secured a 6-wicket win which was also India’s highest successful run chase in Test cricket to level the series at 1-1.
3. Australia vs England – 404/3 at Leeds, 1948
Australia tour of England in 1948 saw an amazing away Ashes series win for the tourists by a margin of 3-0. While Australia was leading 2-0 going into the fourth Test, a lot was on the line for England to secure a win in the last Test. In the second innings at Leeds, England declared after racking up 365 runs leaving Australia with a target of 404 runs in the fourth innings of the Test match.
As it happened, the strong Aussie line-up went all guns blazing as the duo of Sir Donald Bradman and Arthur Morris scored 173 and 182 runs respectively. It was the last nail in the coffin as the home team failed to make enough inroads in the last essay of the Test match. Thus, the visitors handed England a huge defeat as they chased 404 runs with seven wickets to spare. Hence, the match continues to be a talking point even today. Australia’s chase in 1948 against England ranks third in the list of the highest successful run chases in the history of Test cricket.
2. South Africa vs Australia – 414/4 at Perth 2008
In the first Test of the three-match Test series in Australia, South Africa outdid their opponents to claim a historic win in the opening Test at WACA Stadium in Perth. While Australia drew honors at the end of the first innings with a lead of 94 runs, South Africa, led by Graeme Smith clawed their way back in the game with one of the most remarkable fourth innings chases on Australian soil.
On the back of centuries courtesy Smith (108) and AB De Villiers (106), the Proteas managed to chase down 414 for the loss of four wickets. It was a commanding batting effort as the hosts were left amazed with their bowling attack having very little chance to curb South Africa’s batting in the last innings. South Africa scored at a healthy run-rate and decimated every corner of hope for Australia to save the Test on the final day. This was also the second-highest successful run chase in Test cricket.
1. West Indies vs Australia – 418/7 at Antigua, 2003
In the 2003 Test Series between West Indies and Australia in the Caribbean, Steve Waugh-led Australian side dominated the Test series and eventually won by a margin of 3-1. However, they were well on course to claim a clean sweep victory before a resurgent batting effort by the home side in the fourth Test evaded a 4-0 win for the tourists.
With a target of 418 to get in the last Test of the series in Antigua, the hosts were reeling at 74 for 3 and were soon reduced to 165/4 with skipper Brian Lara dismissed for 60. It was the pair of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul who played the rescue act to drive their team out of the muddle. Both the players frustrated the Aussie bowlers with respective centuries to draw some hope for the home team. With some crucial lower-order contributions from Omari Banks and Vasbert Drakes, West Indies got over the line to record the highest successful 4th innings run chase in Test cricket history.