Batting August 23, 2010

Baker's dozen of epochal fourth innings

A look at the finest fourth innings batting performances
93

Brian Lara: arguably played the greatest fourth innings knock
Brian Lara: arguably played the greatest fourth innings knock © Getty Images

The first innings of a test match is a completely open-ended one. What should one aim at? What is a good score? Should one consume time or attack more? Is 225 for 1 at close of play on the first day better than 300 for 4 or vice versa? No one can forecast with any degree of certainty the answers to these questions.

The second innings at least is more defined. There are some targets to aim at. If the opponents score 500 or thereabouts, the first target is to avoid follow-on. If the score in front is around 350, the normal target is to overhaul it. If the first batting has scored 200, the second batting team has to be wary of a difficult pitch but, in general, looks for a substantial lead.

The third innings is clearer. If a team has followed on or trails by a substantial deficit, the first target is to clear the deficit and then build on setting a reasonable target. If the two first innings are comparable, then a substantial target score has to be aimed at. If the team is batting with a substantial lead, then it is only a question of timing the declaration, leaving enough time to win. However the third innings is the one where serious strategising starts. The seeds of the result aimed for are sown here.

However the fourth innings is the purest one. Whatever the team started with is the winning target. It could be 1 or 836 (both are actual targets in test matches). This number is clearly available to both teams. While time/overs/weather are factors, this target never changes. There is no D/L creeping in Tests somewhere there, moving the goal-posts. The innings played which we never forget are also outstanding fighting ones. Great defensive innings, often as valuable as attacking match-winning innings are played in the fourth innings.

In this article I have looked at a baker's dozen of epochal performances in fourth innings. Before you sharpen your keyboard skills to shoot off a comment, note the adjective used. "epochal", not "greatest". These are my selections, mostly using objective analysis such as Wisden-100 tables, but also incorporating some from the lower reaches of the table, innings which were truly great. I have tried to take innings which matter, avoiding dead-rubber situations such as Butcher's 173. I have also avoided situations where two great innings were played, each supporting the other (Bradman/Morris, Gilchrist/Langer, Gilchrist/Katich et al). Finally I have selected only one innings per batsman.

Let me mention that the top 7 from the fourth innings performances from the Wisden-100 table find their place here. In addition I have selected 6 more performances. There are 7 winning performances, 4 from drawn matches and 2 from lost matches. There are two innings from pre-ww1 days. Only in the period between the two wars is there no innings selected. This is a reflection of a batting (read Bradman) dominated era. There is one innings from the 1950s.

As I have already said this is my selection, 75% objective and 25% subjective. Readers will have their own favourite fourth innings and are welcome to send in their comments referring to these innings. The only requirement is that you have to take the trouble of looking up the concerned scorecard and give some details. Rather than posting comments such as "What about Inzamam's 95", the comments which are likely to get published are the ones where a better insight into the concerned innings are provided.

Let us look the performances. These are published in reverse chronological order so that no one says why is this in first position or not in first position.

1. MatchId: 1760 Year: 2005 Match drawn.
England:      444
Australia:    302
England:      280 for 6
Australia:    371 for 9 (Ponting 156)

This was the third test in the 2005 Ashes series. The series was tied at 1-1. England got a healthy lead of 142 and then declared leaving Australia to get 423 to win in about 100 overs. Australia lost Langer early. Then Ponting played probably his best match-saving innings for Australia and scored 156. He was dismissed when there were still nearly 5 overs left. However the Australian last wicket pair of Lee and McGrath saw through 27 balls and earned a very honourable draw.

2. MatchId: 1658 Year: 2003 Pakistan won by 1 wkt.
Bangladesh:   281
Pakistan:     175
Bangladesh:   154
Pakistan:     262 for 9 (Inzamam 138*)

If ever Bangladesh is threatened with demotion from Test cricket they should show a video of this match, lost only because of an out-of-the-world innings by Inzamam. Bangladesh scored 281 runs and took a lead of 100+ runs. They were then dismissed for 154, leaving Pakistan the relatively easy task of scoring 261 for a win. The strong Pakistani batting lineup was expected to win comfortably by 6/7 wickets.

From a comfortable position of 62 for 1, Pakistan lost wickets regularly and were soon down at 164 for 7. Inzamam was steady as a rock and added 41 with Shabbir and 52 with Umar Gul. The 9th wicket fell at 257 but Inzamam scored the winning run and carried Pakistan to a wonderful one wicket win. Only the cricket-challenged crowd would dismiss the innings as against minnows. It was far from true and Inzamam's wonderful innings has to be accorded due respect, as also the Bangladeshis.

3. MatchId: 1594 Year: 2002 New Zealand lost by 98 runs.
England:      228
New Zealand:  147
England:      468 for 6
New Zealand:  451 a.o (Astle 222)

The first innings were low-scoring ones and England got a lead of 81. Then they declared leaving New Zealand to score 550 to win in about 190 overs. Astle came in at 189 for 4 and played arguably the most attacking and defiant innings in Test cricket. He scored 222 in 168 balls against a potent English attack of Caddick, Hoggard, Giles and Flintoff. New Zealand scored at nearly 5 runs per over. Chris Cairns came in at no.10 and added 118 for the tenth wicket with Astle.

Only those who did not watch the telecast would say this was an innings in which nothing was at stake. I watched every ball and I could clearly see that the English players were desperate. Met us not forget that there was Chris Cairns, a top all-rounder at the other end. The commentators kept on saying that Astle could not continue this, but he did. For the last two wickets Astle added 150 runs in 15 overs. One more hour of this mayhem and New Zealand would have won.

4. MatchId: 1453 Year: 1999 West Indies won by 1 wkt.
Australia:    490
West Indies:  329
Australia:    146
West Indies:  311 for 9 (Lara 153*)

This classic was rated the second best innings ever in the Wisden-100 list. Australia scored big in the first innings and took a lead of 161 runs. Then Walsh and Ambrose dismissed Australia for 146, leaving West Indies to get 308 for a win. Lara entered at 78 for 3. There was some support from Adams but soon West Indies were 248 for 8. Then Ambrose lasted for nearly 90 minutes and 39 deliveries and helped add 54 for a win. When he was out, West Indies still needed 6 runs for a win.

Walsh, with a 7.5 batting average somehow lasted 5 balls and Lara scored the winning boundary off Gillespie. The bowling attack was a very good one comprising of McGrath, Gillespie, Warne and MacGill. Lara sculpted probably the greatest of fourth innings chasing wins. It stands second only to Bradman's 270 in the Wisden-100 list. I was privileged to watch every delivery of this classic.

5. MatchId: 1442 Year: 1999 India lost by 12 runs.
Pakistan:     238
India:        254
Pakistan:     286
India:        258 (Tendulkar 136)

Two low scoring first innings totals meant that India had a small lead of 16. Pakistan had a much better second innings and set India 271 runs to win. Shahid Afridi scored 141 out of this total. India were 6 for 2 when Tendulkar walked in. Soon India lost more wickets and were 82 for 5. That too against a potent attack of Wasim, Waqar and Saqlain. Everything seemed over. However Tendulkar and Mongia added 136 runs when Mongia played the wildest shot imaginable and departed.

By now Tendulkar's back spasm was getting worse and he tried an attacking stroke and was dismissed when 16 runs were still needed. The Indian tail batted like novices and lost the last three wickets for 4 runs. Tendulkar took the team to a 95% level but could not finish the job. This innings has a lot in common with Inzamam's innings and Lara's innings. It must be mentioned that the Pakistani tail and West Indian tail supported their respective senior batsmen in a much better manner.

6. MatchId: 1360 Year: 1997 Australia won by 2 wkts.
South Africa: 209
Australia:    108
South Africa: 168
Australia:    271 for 8 (Mark Waugh 116)

Yet again a case of two low first innings scores meant that South Africa took a first innings lead of 101 runs. Then McGrath, Warne and surprisingly Bevan dismissed South Africa for 168. Australia needed to score 270 for a win against a reasonable attack, led by Donald. They were 30 for 2 when Mark Waugh entered. Although he lost partners regularly, he played a master class of 116. Other than Elliott, he received scanty support.

The only blot was that Mark Waugh was dismissed at 258 (shades of Tendulkar at Chennai). However this was the Australian tail, made of sterner stuff. They added the required 13 runs and added value to Waugh's innings.

I could have easily added the Gilchrist match-winner against Pakistan during 1999. The only negative (okay, not the correct term, let me say diluting) factor was that Gilchrist and Langer supported each other very effectively.

7. MatchId: 1315 Year: 1995 Match drawn.
South Africa: 332
England:      200
South Africa: 346 for 9
England:      351 for 5 (Atherton 185*)

This was the ultimate defensive innings. There might have been better and longer defensive efforts in the earlier innings. However when we come to the last innings of the tests, this is at the pinnacle.

South Africa made a useful 332 in their first innings, and after securing a good first innings lead of 132, set England a winning target of 478 runs in a million overs. Atherton opened the innings and was there 11 hours and 165 overs later. He faced 492 balls in an amazing display of concentration, temperament, technical excellence and sheer guts. That too against a powerful attack led by Donald and Pollock. This innings stands comparison with similar efforts like Hanif, Gavaskar and Barrington.

8. MatchId: 0990 Year: 1984 West Indies won by 9 wkts.
England:      286
West Indies:  245
England:      300 for 9 decl
West Indies:  344 for 1 (Greenidge 214*)

While Astle's was the ultimate attacking innings, Greenidge's match winning 214 was the ultimate attacking and winning innings. Two middling first innings meant that England led by 41 runs. Then England declared at 300 for 9 very early on the fifth day, leaving West Indies to score 342 for a very unlikely win. England would have hoped to win comfortably with Willis, Botham and Foster in their ranks. What followed was straight off the "twilight zone".

Haynes got out soon. However Greenidge went on the attack. Gomes provided attacking support. Greenidge scored 214* in 242 balls and West Indies won by 9 wickets with nearly 15 overs to spare. They scored at over 5 runs per over and still had the fearsome duo of Richards and Lloyd padded on. Botham, who captured 8 wickets in the first innings, conceded nearly 6 runs per over in the second. The margin of victory and the resources yet available makes this one of the most incredible victories ever.

9. MatchId: 0854 Year: 1979 Match drawn.
England:      305
India:        202
England:      334 for 8
India:        429 for 8 (Gavaskar 221)

England took a first innings lead of 103 and then declared at 334 for 8 leaving India more than 150 overs to score the massive 438 to win. India finished day 4 comfortably placed at 76 for no loss. On the fifth day Chauhan helped add 213 with Gavaskar and then Vengsarkar added 150 with Gavaskar. India were 366 for 1 at one stage and the highest chase ever appeared still within grasp. Then Vengsarkar was dismissed. Kapil Dev came in and went.

The body blow was when Gavaskar was dismissed at 389. Then Viswanath and Yashpal left going for the win and India had to shut shop for the most honourable of draws. they fell 9 runs short. Gavaskar's effort matches his last Test innings of 96. Neither produced a win, but were jewels in his crown.

10. MatchId: 0498 Year: 1960 Match tied.
West Indies:  453
Australia:    505
West Indies:  284
Australia:    232 (Davidson 80)

Contrary to the rest of the matches presented herein, this match produced two huge first innings. First Sobers anchored West Indies to 453 with an attacking 132. Norman O'Neill responded with 181 and with very good support from other batsmen, Australia posted 505 for a first innings lead of 52. West Indies scored 284 leaving Australia to score 233 for a win.

Australia slumped to 92 for 6 and a West Indies win was on the cards especially as the bowling attack was Hall, Worrell, Sobers, Ramadhin and Valentine. Then the two all-rounders, Davidson and Benaud added 134 for the sixth wicket and Australia were coasting for a win. Davidson was unfortunately run out for a top-drawer innings of 80. Two more run outs followed and the first tie resulted. Davidson's 80 ensured a memorable result. Not to forget his other innings of 44 and 12 wickets in the match.

11. MatchId: 0320 Year: 1950 Australia won by 5 wkts.
South Africa: 311
Australia:     75
South Africa:  99
Australia:    336 for 5 (Harvey 151*)

This was a peculiar match. After a good South African first innings of over 300, there were two sub-100 innings with the spinners Tayfield and Johnson dominating the bat. Australia started the fourth inns needing to 336 to win and no one would have given them even 10% chance against Tayfield and Mann. They started poorly and Harvey walked in at 59 for 3. Then he produced his best innings for Australia with a 5 hour match winning knock of 151.

He was well-supported by Loxton and McCool. Tayfield and Mann bowled 100 overs between them and took only 5 wickets on a wearing pitch. Harvey dominated the bowling completely.

12. MatchId: 0088 Year: 1906 South Africa won by 1 wkt.
England:      184
South Africa:  91
England:      190
South Africa: 287 for 9 (A.D.Nourse 93*)

The first three innings were sub-200 efforts and the net result was that South Africa had to score 284 to win on a wearing pitch. They lost wickets steadily and only White stood firm. Their top batsmen, Sinclair and Faulkner departed and South Africa were 105 for 6 when Nourse walked in. He added 121 priceless runs with White and these two were well on the way to a win when White was out at 226. Vogler and Scwarz followed soon and South Africa were 239 for 9, staring at the barrel.

Nourse stood firm and with the support of Sherwell who scored 22, added 48 for the last wicket to win a memorable match by 1 wicket. The English attack was led by the deadly Blythe.

13. MatchId: 0074 Year: 1902 Jessop G.L 104 (England won by 1 wkt)
Australia:    324
England:      183
Australia:    121
England:      263 for 9 (Jessop 104)

This was the famous "We will get 'em in singles" match. This match is almost identical to the previous match in every manner. A big Australian first innings letting them get a substantial lead of 141 and then an Australian collapse for 121 leaving England to get 263 for a win. England tumbled to 48 for 5 when Jessop walked in. He played the only he could have. He attacked the bowling and added over 100 with Jackson. Then he himself fell at 187, having scored 104 out of the 139 added while at crease.

The innings lasted an hour and quarter and I estimate he faced no more than 50 to 60 deliveries. Jessop fell while still 76 runs short. however Hirst took over and orchestrated the win with a fluent 58, possibly uttering the famous words mentioned at the beginning.

Given below are some of the other innings which came to my attention and could easily have been included.

Sutcliffe      135 vs Aus (1929)
Headley        223 vs Eng (1930)
McCabe         189* vs Saf (1936)
Mitchell       189 vs Eng (1947)
Hazare         122 vs Win (1949)
Nurse          168 vs Nzl (1969)
Randall        174 vs Aus (1977)
Vengsarkar     146 vs Pak (1979)
Gavaskar        96 vs Pak (1987)
Miandad        102 vs Win (1988)
De Silva       143 vs Zim (1998)
Jayawardene    123 vs Saf (2006)
Smith          154 vs Eng (2008)
Shakib-al-Hasan 96 vs Win (2009)

Once more let me repeat my requests to readers.

Comment on these innings, by all means. However do not find fault with the list. These are my selections based on very strong objective criteria and some subjective inputs. Three months later my baker's dozen might look different.

Please send your own entries. However only entries where there is some insight into the innings will be published. You have to take the trouble of telling me (and the other readers) more than a number and a name.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fred on December 29, 2010, 16:53 GMT

    I only today discovered this excellent blog and I must thank you - although it has prevented me from unpacking. You listed the innings that got me hooked on test Cricket - Athers surviving 45 minutes of the best fast bowling I have ever seen as part of his 185* against Donald - I would have also included the rematch - their 1998 squaring up at Trent Bridge. Yes Athers should have walked, yes the Saffers probably should have won if Nasser hadn't been dropped. But for Athers to survive the pasting Donald gave him after he didn't walk - that was something special. I rank his 98* as one of the greatest innings of all time - it isn't, but it feels that way to me. [[ The numbers certainly do not tell the story, as evocatively outlined by you. Many thanks, Fred. pl look at some of the earlier articles. There are nearly 100 of them. Not to forget the bowling of Fraser in this match. And Atherton, 150+ runs, once out, against a formidable bowling attack. Flintoff's debut match !!! Ananth: ]]

    Also good to see mentioned 2 innings worthy of mention from my favourite ever test. England vs India at Chennai in '08. My personal feeling is that Sehwag was rightly MOM for turning a match in which only a draw or a loss was possible into one where anything could happen. However Sachin then made the virtually impossible look easy

  • AB on November 29, 2010, 12:16 GMT

    Am surprised not a single person mentioned MAark Butcher's 173* against the Aussies in 2001 - helluva good innings to win an unexpected game [[ People mentioned it but you must remember it was in a dead rubber. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 25, 2010, 22:51 GMT

    One innings I would suggest was a smallish one (56 not out, I think). It was the match winning innings played by Inzamam-Ul-Haq against Australia. Shane Warne in his prime and still a bit of a novelty, bowling like a demon. Inzie added 50 odd (if memory serves me correctly) with the last man. He'd play hit a couple of boundaries (fields were defensive), then take a single of the 4th ball. Epocally, the winnings runs occured when Ian Healy missed a stumping of Inzie and let the ball go through for four byes. I saw that innings - for tension packed cricket, skill, holding the nerve and even beauty, its as good as anything I've seen.

  • Waspsting on October 25, 2010, 22:48 GMT

    I didn't see Gavaskar's 96 - but every description makes it sound like an innings beyond comprehension. The pitch was turning square from the first day, and to make a score like that at the tail end... must rank more "epocal" than some of the innings you have (especially since it was the first time India or Pakistan won a test in the others grounds, and with it, the series). Ditto Sutcliffe's efforts on the Melbourne wet wicket. Trumble though 70 all out would have been a good score on that pitch, and Bradman thought it the best exhibition of wet wicket batting he saw (dampened a little that Hobbs supported him ably, i guess)

    Loved the Ponting innings - while saving the match, he played his normal game. the short ball went to the boundary - whether it was on the body or wide of the stumps. great innings. I loved the Mark Waugh innings - one of the best I've ever seen. The wicket was green, and moving all over the place, and the bowlers were damn good. (continued)

  • craigmnz on September 7, 2010, 4:52 GMT

    Ananth

    I'm probably once more displaying my bias towards the heroes of my school days, but for me the most memorable NZ 4th innings was G.M. Turner at Lancaster Park in 1973, 110* vs Australia as we beat Australia for the first time (by 5 wickets). From memory he was supported in getting to a target of around 250 by 58 from Brian Hastings and not a lot from anyone else. I remember clearly listening to the late Ken Wadsworth hitting the winning runs - this in the diary over the road from school crammed with other teen-age boys. The memory is wonderful and I think the hundred is regarded one of Turner's best but perhaps not the strongest Australian attack (Walker, Gilmour, Mallet mainly I think)? [[ Craig If you do not bat for the New Zealanders, who would, although I know quite a few non-Kiwis for whom New Zealand cricketers are top. The win you are referring to was as early as the sixth trans-Tasman match and must have sounded very sweet considering the condescending manner in which the Aussies had treated the New zealand cricket. Australia deigned to give New Zealand their first full series after 43 years after New Zealand had played over 35 full series with the other countries. Turner's was truly a match-winning innings in a match of low scores. The role of Hastings is not to be under-estimated. Ananth: ]]

  • Chandrasekar T R on September 6, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    This is one of the best lists I have seen on the 4th innings (and few additions from the comments) - especially since this list is not excessively obsessed about winning, though winning figures prominently, as it must. I always personally opined that the final result doesn't take anything away from a fighting 4 innings, in trying conditions.

    Astle's innings was unbelievable considering the situation they found themselves in. To say that Astle threw his bat around with no hope of winning is disservice. However, Astle had only one way of going towards the target with a limping Cairns and he almost succeeded. But the wicket had eased considerably after the first two innings, it wasn't a typical, broken 4th innings track.

    I had been fortunate to watch some of those innings, ball by ball - in chronological order, Gavaskar's 96 (though it didn't make the final list), Tendulkar's 136, Lara's 153* and Ponting's 156 (Ponting's match-winning innings against Bangladesh was equally good) [[ TRC I myself have leant a little towards results. In Batting there were not many problems in identifying the non-winning performances. hwoevber in bowling virtually impossible. Ananth: ]]

  • Santosh on September 5, 2010, 18:18 GMT

    Undoubtly, you have listed some peculier knocks in your list. But it needs to include Gambhir's marathon match saving inng of 137 against newzland (2007) in such a miserable conditions [[ What is "peculiar" about these performances other than possibly your not being aware of these !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Tom on September 3, 2010, 16:16 GMT

    This is a great list. While I don't think any of the innings you mention ought to be replaced, there are a few more recent knocks that deserve a mention in the comments section:

    Jaques Rudolph's 102* from 283 balls at Perth against an Australian attack featuring Warne, McGrath and Lee to save the first Test.

    Paul Collingwood's 74 from 245 balls against Australia at Cardiff (another reader mis-remembered this innings as having been played at Lord's) in the 2009 Ashes.

    Younis Khan's twin efforts against South Africa in 2007: 126 from 160 at Karachi in a defeat where the next highest score was 44, and 130 from 246 balls at Lahore as Pakistan survived more than 100 overs.

    Still, of these only Rudolph's innings could be placed in the top tier. Great analysis Ananth.

  • Abhi on August 31, 2010, 5:24 GMT

    Actually Alex’s dispassionate observation is reasonably correct. There are two broad “problems” when judging great innings/sporting events. 1) We tend to relate the inn/match with our favourite player.i.e we tend to think that the best player will play the best match/inn. This is incorrect because the inn/match depends of numerous variables which are mostly outside the scope of an individual player to directly influence. As an eg in this year’s Wimbledon the best match was probably between Isner and Mahut. And Sampras, arguably the greatest grass court player in history hardly has a “great match” at Wimbledon- if judged by the current parameters being used. This doesn’t make a whit of a difference when judging his greatness. If this is the case in one-on-one contests, it gets even murkier in team games- where the variables become even more numerous and often not just skill but plain luck plays a big role.

    2) Unfortunately, under the current paradigm, the “greater” the inn. of a particular player the worst the other batsmen in the team require to perform. There is a straightforward inverse correlation. This again in a way defies logic. Effectively, if a player then has the “misfortune” of playing in a team in which one other batsman always performs- this then means that he will never have a “great”inn. by our current definition. So, however well a particular batsman plays – if one (or two) other batsmen also play well- then the innings value “reduces”! Effectively a particular batsman’s performance is “downgraded” because another batsman in the team was also good enough to perform.

  • Harsh Thakor on August 30, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    My best innings are in order 1.Brian Lara's epic 153 not out on a broken,wearing track at Barbados which accounted for half the team's total on a nail-biting winning chase after the team was precariously placed at 104-5.

    2.Sunil Gavaskar's 221 at the Oval which almsot enabled India to achive a record 4th Innings chase of 438 Runs falling 9 run short.A virtual technical exhibition.

    3.Gordon Greeenidge's 214 not out agaisnt England at Lords in 1984 where he tore the bowling like an executioner with a majestic display to win the match.

    4.Sunil Gavaskar's 96 on a treacherous wicket at Bangalore in 1987 against Pakistan-exhibition of batting genius .

    5.Derek Randall's 174 against Australia in the 1977 Centenary test -an epic against bowlers like Lillee.

    6.Mark Waugh's 116 against South Africa in 1997 on a wearing track at Johhanesburg in the second tset which won the game for his team.

    7.Allan Border's 123 not out at Old Traffird in a losing cause in the 1981 Ashes.

  • fred on December 29, 2010, 16:53 GMT

    I only today discovered this excellent blog and I must thank you - although it has prevented me from unpacking. You listed the innings that got me hooked on test Cricket - Athers surviving 45 minutes of the best fast bowling I have ever seen as part of his 185* against Donald - I would have also included the rematch - their 1998 squaring up at Trent Bridge. Yes Athers should have walked, yes the Saffers probably should have won if Nasser hadn't been dropped. But for Athers to survive the pasting Donald gave him after he didn't walk - that was something special. I rank his 98* as one of the greatest innings of all time - it isn't, but it feels that way to me. [[ The numbers certainly do not tell the story, as evocatively outlined by you. Many thanks, Fred. pl look at some of the earlier articles. There are nearly 100 of them. Not to forget the bowling of Fraser in this match. And Atherton, 150+ runs, once out, against a formidable bowling attack. Flintoff's debut match !!! Ananth: ]]

    Also good to see mentioned 2 innings worthy of mention from my favourite ever test. England vs India at Chennai in '08. My personal feeling is that Sehwag was rightly MOM for turning a match in which only a draw or a loss was possible into one where anything could happen. However Sachin then made the virtually impossible look easy

  • AB on November 29, 2010, 12:16 GMT

    Am surprised not a single person mentioned MAark Butcher's 173* against the Aussies in 2001 - helluva good innings to win an unexpected game [[ People mentioned it but you must remember it was in a dead rubber. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 25, 2010, 22:51 GMT

    One innings I would suggest was a smallish one (56 not out, I think). It was the match winning innings played by Inzamam-Ul-Haq against Australia. Shane Warne in his prime and still a bit of a novelty, bowling like a demon. Inzie added 50 odd (if memory serves me correctly) with the last man. He'd play hit a couple of boundaries (fields were defensive), then take a single of the 4th ball. Epocally, the winnings runs occured when Ian Healy missed a stumping of Inzie and let the ball go through for four byes. I saw that innings - for tension packed cricket, skill, holding the nerve and even beauty, its as good as anything I've seen.

  • Waspsting on October 25, 2010, 22:48 GMT

    I didn't see Gavaskar's 96 - but every description makes it sound like an innings beyond comprehension. The pitch was turning square from the first day, and to make a score like that at the tail end... must rank more "epocal" than some of the innings you have (especially since it was the first time India or Pakistan won a test in the others grounds, and with it, the series). Ditto Sutcliffe's efforts on the Melbourne wet wicket. Trumble though 70 all out would have been a good score on that pitch, and Bradman thought it the best exhibition of wet wicket batting he saw (dampened a little that Hobbs supported him ably, i guess)

    Loved the Ponting innings - while saving the match, he played his normal game. the short ball went to the boundary - whether it was on the body or wide of the stumps. great innings. I loved the Mark Waugh innings - one of the best I've ever seen. The wicket was green, and moving all over the place, and the bowlers were damn good. (continued)

  • craigmnz on September 7, 2010, 4:52 GMT

    Ananth

    I'm probably once more displaying my bias towards the heroes of my school days, but for me the most memorable NZ 4th innings was G.M. Turner at Lancaster Park in 1973, 110* vs Australia as we beat Australia for the first time (by 5 wickets). From memory he was supported in getting to a target of around 250 by 58 from Brian Hastings and not a lot from anyone else. I remember clearly listening to the late Ken Wadsworth hitting the winning runs - this in the diary over the road from school crammed with other teen-age boys. The memory is wonderful and I think the hundred is regarded one of Turner's best but perhaps not the strongest Australian attack (Walker, Gilmour, Mallet mainly I think)? [[ Craig If you do not bat for the New Zealanders, who would, although I know quite a few non-Kiwis for whom New Zealand cricketers are top. The win you are referring to was as early as the sixth trans-Tasman match and must have sounded very sweet considering the condescending manner in which the Aussies had treated the New zealand cricket. Australia deigned to give New Zealand their first full series after 43 years after New Zealand had played over 35 full series with the other countries. Turner's was truly a match-winning innings in a match of low scores. The role of Hastings is not to be under-estimated. Ananth: ]]

  • Chandrasekar T R on September 6, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    This is one of the best lists I have seen on the 4th innings (and few additions from the comments) - especially since this list is not excessively obsessed about winning, though winning figures prominently, as it must. I always personally opined that the final result doesn't take anything away from a fighting 4 innings, in trying conditions.

    Astle's innings was unbelievable considering the situation they found themselves in. To say that Astle threw his bat around with no hope of winning is disservice. However, Astle had only one way of going towards the target with a limping Cairns and he almost succeeded. But the wicket had eased considerably after the first two innings, it wasn't a typical, broken 4th innings track.

    I had been fortunate to watch some of those innings, ball by ball - in chronological order, Gavaskar's 96 (though it didn't make the final list), Tendulkar's 136, Lara's 153* and Ponting's 156 (Ponting's match-winning innings against Bangladesh was equally good) [[ TRC I myself have leant a little towards results. In Batting there were not many problems in identifying the non-winning performances. hwoevber in bowling virtually impossible. Ananth: ]]

  • Santosh on September 5, 2010, 18:18 GMT

    Undoubtly, you have listed some peculier knocks in your list. But it needs to include Gambhir's marathon match saving inng of 137 against newzland (2007) in such a miserable conditions [[ What is "peculiar" about these performances other than possibly your not being aware of these !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Tom on September 3, 2010, 16:16 GMT

    This is a great list. While I don't think any of the innings you mention ought to be replaced, there are a few more recent knocks that deserve a mention in the comments section:

    Jaques Rudolph's 102* from 283 balls at Perth against an Australian attack featuring Warne, McGrath and Lee to save the first Test.

    Paul Collingwood's 74 from 245 balls against Australia at Cardiff (another reader mis-remembered this innings as having been played at Lord's) in the 2009 Ashes.

    Younis Khan's twin efforts against South Africa in 2007: 126 from 160 at Karachi in a defeat where the next highest score was 44, and 130 from 246 balls at Lahore as Pakistan survived more than 100 overs.

    Still, of these only Rudolph's innings could be placed in the top tier. Great analysis Ananth.

  • Abhi on August 31, 2010, 5:24 GMT

    Actually Alex’s dispassionate observation is reasonably correct. There are two broad “problems” when judging great innings/sporting events. 1) We tend to relate the inn/match with our favourite player.i.e we tend to think that the best player will play the best match/inn. This is incorrect because the inn/match depends of numerous variables which are mostly outside the scope of an individual player to directly influence. As an eg in this year’s Wimbledon the best match was probably between Isner and Mahut. And Sampras, arguably the greatest grass court player in history hardly has a “great match” at Wimbledon- if judged by the current parameters being used. This doesn’t make a whit of a difference when judging his greatness. If this is the case in one-on-one contests, it gets even murkier in team games- where the variables become even more numerous and often not just skill but plain luck plays a big role.

    2) Unfortunately, under the current paradigm, the “greater” the inn. of a particular player the worst the other batsmen in the team require to perform. There is a straightforward inverse correlation. This again in a way defies logic. Effectively, if a player then has the “misfortune” of playing in a team in which one other batsman always performs- this then means that he will never have a “great”inn. by our current definition. So, however well a particular batsman plays – if one (or two) other batsmen also play well- then the innings value “reduces”! Effectively a particular batsman’s performance is “downgraded” because another batsman in the team was also good enough to perform.

  • Harsh Thakor on August 30, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    My best innings are in order 1.Brian Lara's epic 153 not out on a broken,wearing track at Barbados which accounted for half the team's total on a nail-biting winning chase after the team was precariously placed at 104-5.

    2.Sunil Gavaskar's 221 at the Oval which almsot enabled India to achive a record 4th Innings chase of 438 Runs falling 9 run short.A virtual technical exhibition.

    3.Gordon Greeenidge's 214 not out agaisnt England at Lords in 1984 where he tore the bowling like an executioner with a majestic display to win the match.

    4.Sunil Gavaskar's 96 on a treacherous wicket at Bangalore in 1987 against Pakistan-exhibition of batting genius .

    5.Derek Randall's 174 against Australia in the 1977 Centenary test -an epic against bowlers like Lillee.

    6.Mark Waugh's 116 against South Africa in 1997 on a wearing track at Johhanesburg in the second tset which won the game for his team.

    7.Allan Border's 123 not out at Old Traffird in a losing cause in the 1981 Ashes.

  • Alex on August 28, 2010, 10:00 GMT

    MartinAmber - I feel "great" and "sublime" are best applied in a cricketing sense of the match and its series after discounting emotions (highly personal) and media hype (fully market-driven); players know when a "great" or "sublime" effort has transpired.

    An "epochal" moment, or moment to remember, can be quite different. E.g. Magic Johnson at the 1992 NBA All Star game: forced to retire due to HIV infection, fans vote him in, incredible media hype (incl. first ever live world-wide broadcast), all opponents embrace him just before the game starts. And he delivered with an MVP performance. He wasn't the best player on that day and had played far better many other times. Yet, it was one of those glorious and definitive moments that, as Ananth says, enrich our lives. However, better not to confuse such performances with "great" performances.

  • Abhi on August 28, 2010, 4:27 GMT

    MartinAmber,Ananth etc. I fully agree.And that's precisely my point- the emotion and passion won't come across in the numbers. It's like the Borg-Mac '80 Wimbledon. For 30 yrs till the Fed-Nadal Wimby considered the greatest modern tennis match. To me though it is still the greatest match ever -and even though I was very young then I still remember most details( Probably helped along by the endless replays over the years!) Mac and Borg have played better at other times. And so a straight sets kind of win ,even though perhaps of a better pure quality, will rarely count as a great "match". But sometimes the thrilling finish,passion etc all come together and you get some magic. And this ,of course, cannot be quantified. [[ Abhi/Martin In the Fed-Nadal match there was some contentious decision to continue in indifferent light at the end, not that it had an impact on the result. However in the Borg-McE match there was nothing like that. Also I feel that match see-sawed a lot. The Fed-Nadal match went only one way in the fifth set. In fact, as a contest, I felt the Fed-Roddick was the greatest (again, you might justifiably say, I say that because Fed won and he came back from past the brink !!!). Let us savour these sporting moments. Great thing is that, memories stay with you. And as one gets older, memories sustain you. After seeing yesterday's great day's play at Lord's how am I going to come down to earth to see two shades of blue battling each other for the 387th time in three years. Ananth: ]]

  • MartinAmber on August 28, 2010, 3:06 GMT

    Another really interesting list.

    Nothing beats Lara at Bridgetown 1999 for me. I sometimes think I'm very strange. I'm an English cricket lover in my 30s, but if asked for the greatest Test of my lifetime, I never pick Headingley 1981 or Edgbaston 2005. Always Bridgetown 1999. An innings and a match that shows why words like "great" and "sublime" shouldn't be wasted on mere excellence, but should instead be reserved for sporting moments like this.

    Lara will still be in the shortlist in 2099. [[ Martin Some moments transcend boundaries of all types. The moment when Lara cover drove for 4 to win the match was one such moment. Without in any way putting down any other performance, for me also, that was the moment which cannot be forgotten. As and when I re-do the Wisden-100 work, it is possible Lara's innings may not be there in the top-3 position. But that would not take away the feeling many of us who watched that innings will cherish forever. Ananth: ]]

  • Anand on August 27, 2010, 20:31 GMT

    I have a request to all the readers. As cricket lovers we all know that numbers dont capture eveything about the quality of the game. Sometimes the beauty of a performance is because numbers cannot capture the beauty (like someone rightly pointed put Gillespei's 174 ball match saving 30 against India in Chennai). So criticizing an analyst for missing out factors is really futile. I have been an avid fan and reader of Ananth's posts and I dont remember even ONE occasion when he has made any blanket statement based on his analysis.So just look at the numbers as an alternative insight. It will not alter your choice of favorite player or performance. You may like or dislike the numbers but you cant take away the fact that trmendous effort and analysis go into putting these stats in front of us. Its an effort that deserves appreciation and not blind criticism. Sure, one need not agree with all that he presents but just making blind criticisms neither help other readers nor helps Ananth.

  • Anand on August 27, 2010, 20:17 GMT

    Ananth:

    I am a big fan of your articles. Your tools, techniques and analysis have always fascinated me. Keep the good work going. I dont know if you are thinking about it already, but a similar article on bowlers' performance will also be useful. Some instances are Srinath's 6-21 against South Africa at Ahmedabad or Ambrose and Walsh in South Africa's return test match in 1992 (I am sure you will find many more). What I am really looking forward to seeing is which list was easier for you to make. We all know that cricket seems to be more favorable to batsmen than to bowlers, so surely the number of bowling stellar performances may be lesser than batting but then again, I also know that truth is stranger than fiction!! Looking forward to that list.

  • Vinish Garg on August 27, 2010, 16:31 GMT

    In respponse to Unni's last comment and subsequent comments by Abhi and Ananth, I must say that the analysis is always 'fact based'. However, we must understand that no such analysis is purely objective since:

    (a) Every individual has its own thought process. For example, if Ananth gives 25% weightage to bowling quality in an analysis, others may vote for 20% or 30%. It is individual perspective, priority, and to an extent - knowledge of the game. (b) Statistics are sometimes relative and not absolute.

    What is admirable about this blog is Ananth's objective use of parameters. His ranking and analysis of players is NOT derived from 'whom he wants to top the list' BUT 'who is in the list'.

    I find it very difficult to imagine doing an analysis since invariablly, I would fiddle with parameters to see if I can get my favourite players on top. (Even on my personal blog, I end up doing that.)

    If this analysis is subjective, can anyone suggest how we can make it more objective? [[ Vinish Many thanks for the sentiments expressed. Over the past two years I have also improved my own objective evaluation techniques. One thing I have steadfastly done is to make sure that my own prefernces do not influence my analysis. Over a period I have also realized that my favourite will remain my favourite always. Why should I expect everyone else to agree with me. The main reason for this has been the quality of readers. I take the trouble of reading each comment and this has helped me a lot. Take an example. There was a time when I gave a lot of weight to longevity factor. Owing to the interactions, I have realized the need to moderate this. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on August 27, 2010, 13:14 GMT

    Ananth, You got me wrong. I clearly stated that "this"(current post) particular blog was more "subjective" and we can surely do with some of the same- unlike what unni was saying.

    I said "This is also why sometimes more “subjective” blogs such as this convey more than just the pure number crunching."..i.e this particular one.Does add some colour.

    Oops. Again came out wishy washy. let me say clearly - this particular "post" - not the blog in general- is more "subjective" and more of the same type of posts are most welcome. [[ Abhi Many thanks for the clarification. I also feel that this is not my normal post but have enjoyed doing this and the responses it has elicited. Ananth: ]]

  • Ramesh Kumar on August 27, 2010, 12:36 GMT

    I concur with Ananth's response to Abhi. In fact, we are taking subjective elements like "best" "Great" etc and are trying to validate with figures. Ananth does objective analysis on subjective topics. Care is taken not to lose the cricketing sense by incorporating cricketing points and also including points from all of us. I agree with Abhi's other statements on looking at these as pointers(not really that "vague"). On Tendulkar & Lara--it is important that we don't miss out other greats and such analysis brings forward certain players' achievements which would have been swept under the carpet. In fact our choices of favourites are mostly subjective and sometimes numbers don't support them. Generally we don't change our mind just because numbers don't support them as many other factors(mostly subjective and emotional) would have shaped our opinions. In summary, our opinions are mostly subjective and these analysis may bring in objective element and not the other way around.

  • Abhi on August 27, 2010, 4:53 GMT

    Unni, I more or less agree with your comments, especially the last one. (Also the sorting 4th innings by average of other batsmen is a good idea). But then these are things that only people who have watched the game for a long time will automatically “sense”. I have always felt that “overall” figures are often (not always) a gross distortion of reality especially in cricket due to various factors such as asymmetry of matches played in any particular span of time, length of career, rest of team dynamics including bowlers (as you so rightly mention) etc. However since we don’t have any form of “chronological” analysis we just have to live with it. For eg. besides the examples you give- Tendulkar and Lara now average just about the same as a whole host of other batsman. Which knowledgeable cricket observer, in his right mind, would bracket all of them together? The thing is these various analyses are all forms of “analysis” not “synthesis”- vaguely like trying to capture the “essence” of something living by breaking it up into its constituent parts and then putting together the separate parts. It is not going to happen. Several ppl have mentioned this- but still undoubtedly and intrinsically flawed though the methods are, they are still good fun! And we simply don’t have any other methods. So, if we take stats analyses as general vague “pointers” instead of any definitive conclusions we would be better off.

    This is also why sometimes more “subjective” blogs such as this convey more than just the pure number crunching. [[ Abhi You are doing me and this blog a great disservice by labeling us "subjective" blogs. 90% of my work is objective and based on numerical analysis. Also let me say this. If anyone wants to only view pure number based tables without any human inputs, I think they should stick to Statsguru. Ananth: ]]

  • unni on August 26, 2010, 17:06 GMT

    I did a small query on statsguru and it reveals the following facts. I have made some simple assumptions that a century is a good contribution. Tendulkar scored 38 centuries and in those matches India either won or drawn the match.....Next best is Ponting with 32 centuries. And out of those 38 matches, he scored 30 centuries in the 1st innings of the team. This simply means that on 30 matches he scored early and avoided the risk of failing early on. Why should a batsman postpone this to the 4th innings and get the team into a risky situation? (It is true that if only the winning matches are considered 4 australians Ponting, Waugh, Heyden, Bradman have scored more centuries than Tendulkar. Then, anyway, winning would happen with only a strong bowling attack, which Tendulkar never had)...

  • unni on August 26, 2010, 17:00 GMT

    To me personally the 'achievement' of the 4th innings scores reminds the story of a bad student who wasted majority of his year by wandering around and just before the exam struggle for two weeks by keeping awake till late night and somehow passes the exams !!! And he gets the accolades and the poor student who did his bit by regularly studying from the 1st month onwards and generally passes his exams comfortably is accused of not contributing at all !! [[ Unni I am not sure whether your comments are valid. No one here, least of all myself, has said that the fourth innings performances are better or worse than those in the earlier innings. This is a list of great fourth innings performances. Why bring in the other performances. The bottom line is, if, rather when, I do an analysis on which player contributed most during a match, all four innings will be considered. This is a fourth innings analysis and it should be taken as such. On the subject of examinations, let me take the three most competitive and prized ones, CAT, GRE and GMAT. It does not matter whether a student loafed around for 6 months, walked into a zone and got 95 percentile or another student slogged for 6 months, had a terrible day and got 80 percentile. It is what teh student does on the exam day is what matters. No one complains abouit it. The IIT or MS (in US) might have GPAs based on a student's term performances. That meets a different criteria as compared to the competiive examinations. Ananth: ]]

  • unni on August 26, 2010, 16:49 GMT

    I need to comment on two aspects, hence I post two comments. First one is regarding the comment from your resident editor. Incidently it coincides with the departure of your statistician commentator with whom my sympathies lie. I enjoy this blog since I like statistics and cricket in that order. So, I would enjoy articles with a statistical backbone. Anyway, I feel you could easily create a more statistical list on the above theme by a sorted list of ratios of the highest 4th innings individual score with the average runs scored by all those who batted in that particular 4th innings. [[ Unni Once in a while I also need to have my say. Also at no stage can I let statistics take over from the cricketing aspects. Your second point is a good suggestion for a separate article. Ananth: ]]

  • Vinish on August 26, 2010, 5:38 GMT

    Anand

    While reading your last few posts, and all users' comments on the lists; I must say that we are privileged to have these as our 'food for thought', for something that we love so much - the game of cricket.

    Your posts reflect your love for game, and our comments reflect ours. However, I wonder that sometimes (not always) and somewhere, the readers (including me) are lost in finding the 'flaws', or 'misses' in your lists or analysis.

    With due respect to all other readers, I think we spend more time and energy in 'adding' to what you present, rather the 'enjoying' what you present. Of course readers help you enhance the analysis and their contributions are relevant also, and I appreciate the valuable insights that they add to your post, yet, I see that the element of feeling 'priviliged to see the list or analysis' and 'enjoying what we have' is missing sometimes.

    I can sense how much pride you take in presenting the analysis. Offer my handshake please. [[ Vinish You are very kind. The readers make this blog. Over the past two years, the comments of the blogs, both bouquets and brickbats, have helped shape the blog and any improvement in quality is solely to the readers' efforts. I am only an instrument who converst ideas into understandable lists. Ananth: ]]

  • Balaji on August 25, 2010, 17:12 GMT

    This is a great list Ananth, and you efforts show up very well. I have an observation on Sachin,s innings of 136, and the comparison with the other innings by Inzy and Lara. The primary difference for me is that Inzy and Lara were there till the end to see their teams through. I am in no way blaming Tendulkar for the loss. It is just that he could have asked the guy at the other end to try to score, so that he could have remained at the other end as a constant. If my memory serves me correctly, time wasnt an issue either. Of course, the tailenders are at fault, but in the 90s if we didnt expect any of the top order to contribute, its a big ask for the tailenders especially considering the momentum change a Sachin dismissal brought then. there was an ad punchline in those years - ten du, ten dont!!

  • Ramesh Kumar on August 25, 2010, 10:03 GMT

    Ananth,

    very good compilation well supported by a few additions by others. One innings to the other extreme happened in Adelaide 1977-78 India vs Australia. India was chasing a record target of 492 runs, fell short by 47 runs where none scored centuries. Great team effort albeit for a lost cause though Thomson did not bowl in 2nd innings. [[ There were 4 fifties and 10 batsmen reached double figures against Packer-ravaged Aussies led by 40+ Simpson. Ananth: ]]

  • memoriesofpast on August 25, 2010, 9:56 GMT

    Still most of the team captains will chose to bat first after winning the test match toss. Even the top teams feel the pressure while batting in the fourth innings even if they are chasing a total of less than 200 runs and tend to forget about past achievments but remembering past defeats. U mention Gavaskar's 221 against England in the 1980 drawn test. Before that Gavaskar's 100, Vishy's 112 and Amarnath's 85 had earned India a win at Port of Spain in 1976. And in 1987 Gavaskar's 96 at Bangalore vs Pak could not even save the match for India. So I doubt if occasional such performances would change approach of any batsman towards batting in 4th innings to be called as epochal performance.

  • memoriesofpast on August 25, 2010, 8:53 GMT

    An epochal fourth innings batting performance should be highly significant or important especially bringing about or marking the beginning of a new development or era in batting in test match 4th innings and this has not happened, still teams prefer not to bat in the 4th innings. Cricket is a game of glorius uncertainities where in one match a team which can be no.1 in ICC ranks may be able to chase even 400 plus in 4th innings but in the next game may find even a target of 150 runs unchasable in the 4th innings. There are teams like Aus which have lost not one but three test matches after giving a follow-on to the opponents & even many more tests by failing to chase a target less than 200 runs in the 4th innings. India chased 387 a couple of years back against England at Chepauk but had failed to chase a target of just 120 runs in Bridgetown test vs West Indies in 1997. And in ur list the hundreds gone in vain look bad as the team was unable to save the match. [[ I confess that I have not able to decipher your message. What exactly are you trying to convey. Ananth: ]]

  • Kartikeya on August 25, 2010, 5:33 GMT

    @SunilAmanath: About that Lara innings of 153, it is celebrated because it looks superb on a scorecard - 153 out of 311, the last 63 runs in the company of Walsh and Ambrose. Truly superb. The comparison between that and Tendulkar's 136 is often held up as evidence that Lara was somehow the more timely runmaker. Lara was missed twice late in that innings by Ian Healy - a missed stumping from Ian Healy and a dropped catch. Tendulkar was also let off by Moin Khan who missed a stumping, but might one more chance have been enough?

    I thought Lara's 213 at Sabina Park was better than his 153 at the Kennington Oval. [[ Karthikeya As far as quality of innings, the 213 was better. Ananth: ]]

  • Amit on August 25, 2010, 5:28 GMT

    Very nice list. I am thinking hard to see if I can find few ore. How about: Asif Iqbals 140 in the final test of Pak-WI (one of the best ever) series in 1977? Needing about 420 to win they were in deep trouble when Asif came to bat. Ended 4th day at about 320 for 7 with Asif unbeaten on 140 - most of the runs scored with late order batsman, with a realistic chance of winning (against Garner, Croft and Roberts). They did lose those last few wickets quickly next day to lose the series 2-1. [[ Amit A very good innings albiet in a losing cause. Probably desrves a push into the second list. Ananth: ]]

    How about Gavaskars 126 no against unplayable Imran in pak in 1982 in a losing cause (unless it was in 3rd innings)? [[ It was in the third innings. It was in the third innings though. Ananth: ]]

    How about Tony Griegs defiance in a losing cause in the 4th test against WI in 76? 'Grovel' Series? [[ It was indeed very praisewothy innings. 8 batsmen together scored 14 runs including 5 ducks. And England needed only 259 runs. They fell short by 55 runs. Ananth: ]]

    A fantastic match winning 120 tony lewis at Delhi on a turner at Delhi in 1973? needing about 240 to win after being 3 or 4 down cheaply against bedi, chandra and venkat (who dropped Lewis when he was on zero!) [[ It was a match-winning 70* by Lewis. He was on debut and the captain to boot. They were 20 for 2. Ananth: ]]

    BTW, I would personally include Randalls 176 in centanary test in the top dozen, given the context of the match, freedom with which he played away from home against Lillie. [[ That was indeed a wonderful innings/ They needed 462 to win and fell 45 short. Should at least have been in the second list. Overall youre suggestions have been very good. Thanks. Ananth: ]]

    Great job. Please keep more coming.

  • ziafat khan on August 25, 2010, 5:02 GMT

    A very nice list but why Indian fans keep on mentioning Sachin,s one innings or the other? there is no doubt that he is such a wonderful player but does not fullfill the criteria set. As in ODI,s he has played so many great innings but so many of his hundreds have not been winning knocks.

  • Abhi on August 25, 2010, 4:33 GMT

    Ananth, Further to Raju Kane's excellent comment on Gavaskar- surely in terms of technique and temparament one of a kind? The original Wall if you will, not just the original Little Master.

    What if we could find out how long a batsman has spent at the crease - in terms of "time". Not just balls faced. The balls faced may not give the complete picture since concentration has to be more or less maintained throughout an innings.

    What if we had a time per innings analysis? This will probably yield all the "Walls" of cricket. [[ Abhi In tests, time is a very relevant and useful information. Not always available. In earlier matches available sporadically. Also since I created my database, Cricinfo has been strengthening some of these add-on info. With very limited resources, I find it difficult to incorporate these add-on data. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 25, 2010, 3:41 GMT

    Ananth - I am not sure about the strength of Aussie attack bowling to Hobbs. Thanks to WW-1, these 3 bowlers played very few tests. In this series, they averaged about 28, 24, and 21 while Barnes averaged 23 (34 wkts in 5 tests). So, maybe, they were not that bad in this series, at least. (Actually, it would be nice to weigh 100's by dividing those with the average of the current averages of the top 2 or 3 bowlers.)

    At any rate, the backdrop behind the 126* is pretty special. It also annointed Hobbs as the pre-eminent batsman and signaled a shift in the Ashes balance.

  • Alex on August 25, 2010, 1:45 GMT

    Raju - I watched every ball of SMG's 96 allowed by school and Doordarshan (they switched to a hockey match after SMG reached 40+). As a kid, I memorized SMG's scores innings-wise and this was probably his best. However, it is not fair to say that no one else could have batted as well on that wicket. In fact, Vengsarkar (who, along with Miandad, was the best player of spin bowling in 70's & 80's) batted serenely and with more composure before he got out in a freak manner, clean bowled Tauseef 19.

  • Kartik (the old one) on August 25, 2010, 1:34 GMT

    Also Gavaskar's 96 at Bangalore in what was his last test knock. Harsha Bhogle wrote a great article relating Tendulkar's 136 to that knock.

    Losing to Pakistan by a tiny number of runs being the constant there. Don't forget that India also lost to Pakistan by just 40 runs, a couple of tests after Tendulkar's 136.

    Let me know when India wins a couple of Tests against Pak by narrow margins.

  • Alex on August 25, 2010, 1:33 GMT

    Ananth - Wisden rates the 2nd century of Jack Hobbs among his finest: vs Aus, 2nd test, @MCG, Jan 1912. This test featured who's who from both sides: Hill, Trumper, Armstrong, Rhodes, Hobbs, Barnes, Woolley, Mead, et al. Having lost the previous ashes 2-1, Eng had lost the first test of this series ("timeless" test) at SCG by 146 runs. The scores of this test read: 1st inn: Aus score 184 (62 overs) 2nd inn: Eng score 265 (98 overs) 3rd inn: Aus score 299 (91 overs) 4th inn: Eng score 219 for 4 off 67 overs with Hobbs hitting 126* off 206 balls. Aussie attack comprised Cotter-Whitty-Horden who have pretty good bowling averages of 28,24, and 21, resp. [[ Alex The England score was 219 for 2, making this quite an easy win. And the pitch seems to have improved. As far as the bowlers are concerned, not great by the standards prevailing during those times, though. Ananth: ]]

    England went on to win the next 3 tests as well, taking home the ashes 4-1 with a prime-form Hobbs hitting 2 more 100's. This was one of the strongest teams England ever had. Armstrong would return the favor 10 yrs later captaining an all-time great Aussie team.

  • Kartik (the old one) on August 25, 2010, 1:33 GMT

    I feel the need to point out that the 3 great Indian 4th innings (Gavaskar, Gavaskar, Tendulkar) all failed to result in wins.

    Two were losses, one draw, all three agonizingly close to wins, but no wins.

    India pre-2000 just could not produce the extra ounce to cross the finish line, sorry to say. This has changed a bit in the modern era with people like Harbhajan and Laxman, who have managed to cross the finish line in tough situations.

  • Vivek S on August 24, 2010, 20:56 GMT

    Ananth Sir, Another innings that immediately comes to my mind is Jayasurya 4th innings chase against Aus in 2004. SL made 324 chasing 352. Jaya made 131 where no one else passed 50. But he dint finish the job , but left their team in a competitive position. [[ Vivek It was also a nearly run-a-ball innings (131 in 145), somewhat similar to Sehwag's Chennai effort. But no one finished the job on hand, as Tendulkar and Yuvraj did. The win was still on the cards after Jayasuriya's exit at 218 for 5. 130 were needed. Ananth: ]]

    And cant wait for the 3rd innings. I am sure KP s Ashes regaining 158 and Gayle s 197 in Napier and 165* vs AUS would get a look in .But my nomination would be for Gillespie s 174 ball 30 in Chennai test of 2004 where rain washed away Indian hopes on the final day.

    Keep them coming.

  • Raju Kane on August 24, 2010, 18:35 GMT

    Ananth,

    No complaints about your list. After all it is your selection, a superb one at that. Just one small point about Gavaskar's innings. I personally would have put the 96 (or was it 98) in his last test higher than the 221. Sure the 221 needed staying power, stamina etc. but for the sheer display of classical batting techniques, it was just way too superior to the 221. I honestly believe that among all the players I have seen bat over the last 35 odd years (the only period I can comment upon), no one, just one could have dealt with that pitch and that bowling in as calm, composed a manner as SMG. Not Tendulkar, Dravid, Ponting, Sanga, Inzzy et al. Besides it was his last innings in test cricket (and hence perhaps qualifies as epochal). What a batsman and what a way to go.

    Raju [[ Raju Spoken from the heart. I second every word. The only reason I selected 221 was because it was away, against a formidable opponent, showed that India was capable of winning and was a genuine match-winning innings. It is unfortunate that there are attempts to pull down Gavaskar now forgetiing what he did for India almost single-handedly. I do not like Gavaskar's writings, nor his biased commentaries, nor his very strong anti-west stance. However as a batsman of technique, temparament, concentration and guts he was non-pareil. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on August 24, 2010, 17:20 GMT

    Ananth, (Not related to this blog-but just a general observation)

    As an aside- it just struck me when checking out the 4th inn. stats- most of these stats bases give a very Wrong idea!! i.e because DNBs are INCLUDED in total inn. played- so they directly impact averages/RPIs etc!! How warped is that? And I'm amazed it hasn't struck more ppl as yet! For eg.adjustting for DNBs you get Lara RPI 53.5 , Tendulkar RPI 53.3! How's that for a dead heat?! [[ No, Abhi

    DNBs are not included in innings played. Whether it is the Cricinfo Stats or mine or anyone else's, the DNBs are ignored. Only where the batsman has taken strike is the innings considered.

    I will give you the example of Raina since he has played only 2 tests. His stats are

    2-3-1-223-111.50 (2 tests/3 inns/1 no/223 runs)

    He did not bat in the second innings of the SSC test and that is not considered as an innings. You can check the Statsguru also.

    The mails to your given id bounce. Hence I have posted the reply here.

    Ananth ]]

  • kamran khalid on August 24, 2010, 17:02 GMT

    A lot of factors are considered here and I agree to them, I for once loved the modern innings of lara, inzi and tendulkar as they were more like a fairy tale. all three had very bad partners. Ponting's one is something you would not expect from him. For all he is worth he should have won that test(i know i will get hammered for that arrogance but that is ponting we are talking about, he is arrogance personified). He is just the good as far as i am concerned. Inzi deserves a mention as his was criticized a lot when compared with the best. [[ Kamran Don't be too harsh on Ponting. He has mellowed down considerably. As far as the 158 was considered, they were chasing 423 (the record chase). and they were in the chase for probably 2 hours. Ananth: ]]

  • riskrao on August 24, 2010, 16:32 GMT

    this list is surely an elite one. mr anantha narayanan, you've missed a few great innings. 1. G.SMITH 125* vs NZ in 2004 at wellington. target was 234. SA was 1-0 down going into the third test and smith's knock ensured that SA won the match and never lost an series to NZ. 2. G.SMITH 154* vs ENG in 2008 at edgbaston. target was 283. this was an series clinching effort and first series victory for SA against ENG and that too away. 3. G.SMITH 108 vs AUS in 2008 at perth. target was 414. 4. AB DE VILLIERS 106* vs AUS in 2008 at perth. target 414. those two innings were simply superb and no argument an stand out innings. i've said three innings of G.SMITH, not even one in this list. he was captain and opening batsman in all those innings. surely his name have to be mentioned atleast once. please include atleast anyone of the innings... he scored centuries in high pressure situations... hope u'll atleast reply to this comment...... [[ That shows that you have not taken the trouble to read the article fully. At the end, in the list of innings considered, Smith's 154* is there. So he was in contention. This is my list and I have used mostly objective methods. When you make your own list you have a right to put in all of Graeme Smith's innings. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on August 24, 2010, 15:41 GMT

    Ananth, Sure,this one's to Alex's excellent suggestion on innings wise stats distrubitions :

    Alex. Further to your comment about innings wise stats distributions - the two greatest modern day batsmen Tendulkar and Lara have distinctly average 4th innings records. Lara in 40 batted 4th inn. (6 times DNB) has 7 ducks and 7 scores of 5 or less. Tendulkar in 35 batted inn. has 3 ducks and 7 scores of 5 and under!

    So I guess that puts the 153*,119*,136,103* etc in perspective.I don’t think these rare “peaks” can make up for the far greater number of flop shows. Several other batsmen like Ponting,Dravid,Kallis etc have much better 4th inn stats. [[ Abhi/Alex I can see in front of me 3 months' work !!! Thanks for showing the light for this route. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on August 24, 2010, 14:06 GMT

    Mani I would also like to point out (again) that we are discussing “epochal” innings. Most of these innings discussed here are not necessarily best “pure batting” displays. They are mostly your “humdingers” for various reasons like tense finishes, last man standing types.

    I freely admit that Tendulkar’s 103* was not the “greatest” pure batting innings- though it was a masterpiece in its own unique way. It was the unparalleled emotion of the innings that hit you. Just a small telling touch -When was the last time you saw the ground staff rush onto the ground to congratulate a batsman at the end? Anywhere, in any match? The emotion fairly leapt out at you from the TV. A person have had to be in a catatonic state not to experience it. [[ Abhi Somehere there you have to accept other views and move on. Every comment on Tendulkar need not be answered with long responses. He is what he is (the best) and where he is (right at the top), whatever be anybody's comments or responses. After all what did Mani say. he said that too much is made of Tendulkar;s 103. Probably he also should have made it as a team win instead of giving most of the credit to Sehwag. Let me also say that without Sehwag's start or Tendulkar's finish, India would not have won. Let me finish this with the following comment. If you allocate 100 pts for the win, Sehwag will get 30, Tendulkar 30, Gambhir 15 and Yuvraj 25. This is borne by my rating points. Any contrary view is to put one's favourite batsman forward. That is okay. Anyhow I suggest let it go. Ananth: ]]

  • Sudarshan P.N. on August 24, 2010, 13:46 GMT

    Ananth I am not sure whether it would qualify but one innings that comes to my mind is Richards unbeaten century against India in the 1st test in Bombay (as it was then) 1987(?) series. Both sides were bundled out in the 1st innings (75 and 102) and in the 2nd chasing 280+ for a victory, WI at one point in time were 112 for 4. WI eventually won by 5 wickets. Richards simply dominated the bowling and never gave even a hope to Indian bowlers who had their tails up till then. Ananth, I am just going by memory and the #s may be a bit off, but I remember the sheer majesty of the innings and the impression that Richards created. To me, he is always the KING. [[ Sudarshan That was at Delhi. A truly match-winning innings. Ananth: ]]

  • Mani on August 24, 2010, 11:59 GMT

    I beleive too much is being made of sachin's run chase against england in chennai. I feel sehwag deserves most of the credit for that chase and rightly was awarded the man of the match. [[ Mani It was a team effort with four batsmen playing their part, probably Sehwag's the most crucial effort. Ananth: ]]

  • Pratit Shetty on August 24, 2010, 11:42 GMT

    How about Tendulkar's superb under pressure 176 against west indies at the eden gardens in 2002.. India were reduced to 10/2 when Sachin walked in and scored that fabulous 176 to save that match for India.. I am not too sure if it was the 3rd or 4th Innings but definitely the last.. If it was the third, My apologies.. [[ Third innings, Pratit. Ananth: ]]

  • anu on August 24, 2010, 11:36 GMT

    In the 1999 Chepauk test against Pak, Venkatesh's Prasad 6 wicket haul in Pakistan's 2nd innings and fifties by Ganguly and Dravid in India's 1st innings were instrumental in setting up a target of not more than 271 runs to chase in 4rth innings. In India's 2nd innings, Sachin who had made a first innings duck tried to compensate and only got support from Mongia as far as batting partner is concerned. Credit also should be given to those who give good batting support at the other end and also to bowlers. Howcome I dont find the mention of 1986 tied test against Aus at Chepauk-india made 348 in 4th innings due to contributions from Gavaskar, Shastri, Amarnath, Azhar, Kapil and Maninder and 1976 Port of Spain test where India chased 404 in 4th innings due to hundreds from Gavaskar and Vishwanath?

  • Ravi Kumar on August 24, 2010, 11:32 GMT

    Sameer Dighe, playing in his first test v Australia in Chennai in 2001. I think he didn't even manage a 50, but in showing the guts to stay on till India won the test and with it the series, he denied Steve Waugh success at the "final frontier". For putting that one blemish on Waugh's awesome captaincy record, it might yet belong in this list.

  • P.Satish on August 24, 2010, 11:20 GMT

    Also Gavaskar's 96 at Bangalore in what was his last test knock. Harsha Bhogle wrote a great article relating Tendulkar's 136 to that knock.

  • P.Satish on August 24, 2010, 11:17 GMT

    I think Sehwag's knock at Chennai against England deserves a mention. No other batsman in the game has unlocked a game quite so majestically as he did that evening with his attack on the England bowling. [[ Satish Don't forget that his was the key innings. But Gambhir. Tendulkar and Yuvraj played their important role. Ananth: ]] Another knock would be Chris Cairns against India in 1998. He did very little all test match, was carrying an injury(not sure but when did he ever not have a niggle) and then carved a great knock when they were on the brink of defeat. India's quest for an away win continued. [[ Don't forget the role of Craig McMillan who scored 74* to Cairns' 61. Their partnership of 137 won the game for New ealand. Ananth: ]]

  • hemant brar on August 24, 2010, 10:59 GMT

    Ananth Great effort Ananth. I went through all the comments so that I do not repeat it. I would like to mention Ricky Ponting's innings against SA when Smith declared with a target of 230 odd (may be it was Ponting's 100th Test) and Ponting scored a 100 to win the match. As statsguru is not working, unable to check the scorecard but suspect someone else also scored 80 odd. Regards Hemant [[ Hemant You are probably referring to Sydney 2006 when Ponting scored a match-winning 143* out of 288 for 2.Not a difficult wicket though and only Pollock the serious bowler. Ananth: ]]

  • roger on August 24, 2010, 10:44 GMT

    I don't fully understand why an innings which formed one half of a partnership is excluded eg Bradman's hundred at Headingly in 1948 when the Aussies scored 404-3 in one of the most famous of all run chases.

  • Faheem Imtiaz on August 24, 2010, 10:02 GMT

    Please some one take a look at the Kamran Akmal's match saving Hundred in Mohali on the fifth day he batted for the whole day to rescue the defeat. That hundred deserves to be their according to me if its a fourth innings hundred. [[ Faheem That was in the third innings. A very good innings. But there was support from no less than 5 batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • RC on August 24, 2010, 7:44 GMT

    He might not have played an innings which was included in this article but Rahul Dravid is nevertheless one of the best batsmen in the 4th innings and definitely India's best. Hope you agree. [[ RC I am looking specifically at innings not the player. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 24, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    Ananth - to comment on this article, I had to either recall from memory or do an innings search on cricinfo for the usual suspects. Cricinfo search revealed a few gems such as Border's 10-hour 123* as Aus managed 402 chasing 506 vs Eng at Old Trafford in '80. So, could you pl do an article on batsmen in 4th innings (runs, ave, RPI, 100's, 50's, etc.)? That will be a big help ... you can generalize that to batsmen (or bowlers) in N-th innings. [[ Alex Will do. I am also fascinated by the third innings, the often under-rated innings. Ananth: ]]

  • Ganesh on August 24, 2010, 6:51 GMT

    Ananth,

    I would like to mention G R Vishwanath's 112 (run out ) in this list. This was chasing 403 against West Indies in Port of Spain 1976. I do understand that Gavaskar's 102 & Amarnath 85 were also key support. However if you analyze the merits of the innings it is truly epochal for the follwoing reasons : 1. The chase was on only from Tea due to Vishy's innings. 2. Chasing 400+ by India abroad was a laughable idea at that point of time. 3. It was a 4th wicket spinning track and to score at that pace 0-1 down in the series.

    Hence this innings must be saluted.

    Other than the same I think that the list is fantastic and your choices apt. [[ Ganesh All of them played their part, especially Viswanath who completed the task started by the other wonederful 5' 3'' batsman. Ananth: ]]

  • Ayub on August 24, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    Kamran Akmal & Abdul Razzak's innings in fourth innings of a test match in Mohali would also come into consideration as Pak were facing a sure defeat in that test match [[ Have responded to a later mail on this. It was a combined Pakistani team effort with 6 batsmen playing their part. Ananth: ]]

  • Kamran Wasti on August 24, 2010, 6:36 GMT

    Nice to see Miandad's 102 at Port-of-Spain in there. Very few people realise that and Miandad himself too merely points to those two hundreds he made. I was 9 at the time and there was no TV coverage in Pakistan. Pakistan were set 370 odd on an uneven wicket against Marshall and Co. and as you'd expect from Imran Khan's team, they went for it and ended up at 340 for 9. To me, this is Miandad's greatest innings. I remember the radio commentary and how Abdul Qadir survived those last 4-5 balls. It was an astonishing performance from Pakistan. I just wish Miandad had more time and space for this particular innings instead of his OCD with the 280 where he would have sacrificed a Pakistan win for personal glory.

  • wb on August 24, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    Where is this in ur blog: Sachin's 1st hundred in test cricket at Old Trafford in 1990 in 4th inningswhich saved the test for India I object that u are focussing on a single players performance because cricket is a team game and its importance as a team game has to be stressed. so when india chased 387 at Chepauk due to Sehwag, Sachin, Yuvraj and Gautam it shows the value of entire team contributing towards the result. Had Sehwag, Yuvraj and Gautam failed then Sachin's 100 would have gone in vain just like it did in the 1999 test against Pakistan at Chepauk. I also dont find 1976 Port of Spain test where India successfully chased 404 due to GAvaskar and Vishwanath each making hundred. U should also blog about teams which defended even a total less than 200 runs in 4th innings-and then again comes Vishy as India successfully defended a target of only 143 runs in Melbourned test of 1981-vishy making 114 and 41 in each of Indian innings. India never lost the match in which Vishy made 100 [[ I have not understood your comment. What are you objecting to, I cannot see. If you are talking about the team, why are you yourself singling out Tendulkar's hundred at Manchester when the real saving of the test was done by Tendulkar and Prabhakar who added 160* runs for the seventh wicket. Ananth: ]]

  • Andrew on August 24, 2010, 5:25 GMT

    Thanks for the reply Ananth, and please don't apologise. I should have said I thought it was a great list, and it was hard to argue against any of your choices. I've read Jack Fingleton's account of McCabe's innings, and he witnessed a lot of it from the other end. His description of the batting conditions (wearing track, poor light) made it sound pretty exceptional. But debating about these things is one of the joys of following cricket! Please keep these columns coming, I really liked the combination of hard data and subjective judgment.

    Alex, I was at the SCG when Chappell got that 98 not out. I remember his straight driving, and Botham bowling him a long hop when he was on 94 to give him a chance for his ton. Bit different from recent events! But I agree, it was a great innings as well.

  • Saif on August 24, 2010, 5:15 GMT

    Since you have taken one innings per batsman, I wonder which innings of Inzy would qualify more, the one you have mentioned above or the one he played against the Australians at Karachi which Pakistan won also by one wicket? [[ Saif Against Australia, Inzamam was not even the leading scorer. Against Bangladesh he was the main architect of their win. And let me say that the win against Bangladesh, ironically, was the more significant one since Pakistan could not have afforded to lose against Bangladesh at home. Ananth: ]]

  • Manish on August 24, 2010, 5:14 GMT

    Superb Article , I hope next time you come up with bowlers perspective. The best possible effort from the bowling side.

  • Alex on August 24, 2010, 5:02 GMT

    Andrew - McCabe's 189* was a 4th innings but I thought Ananth excluded it since it fell in the Bradman era. Needing 399 to win, Aus were 274 for 2 before tea on 4th day before the match got washed out - so, he was on course for 250+! Regardless of the attack, the pitch was not that friendly (although Nourse hit 231 in 3rd inn). [[ Alex I did not go out of the way to exclude any Bradman-era innings. It just turned out that way. It was an oversight to miss that in the also-ran list. I can still recollect Ray Robinson's beautiful writing on these two classics. Ananth: ]]

    McCabe has 3 all-time classics against his name: 187* (1st inn), 232 (2nd inn), and 189* (4th inn). I often wonder if his batting style had anything in common with that of VVS or Lara.

  • Andrew on August 24, 2010, 4:04 GMT

    How about Stan McCabe's innings in South Africa when the fielding side appealed for the light? I'm pretty sure this was in the fourth innings, if not, apologies. [[ Andrew This was one of the two great innings (187* and 189*) referred to by Ray robinson in his classic "Between wickets". The Nottingham innings was the one which Bradman invited his fellow-players to come and watch. Both are absolute classics. Maybe the final score of 274 for 2 and the very average South African attack has not halped the rating of this innings, But it should have been in my short list. My apologies. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 24, 2010, 2:23 GMT

    Ananth: SRT's 119* vs Eng seems better since it did the job (as 1st 100, it was "epochal"!). But many others are better that category: e.g. Vengsarkar's almost match-winning 146* vs Pak in '79.

    Among the great batsmen, I can think of Chappell's 98* vs Eng on a difficult SCG in '80, Viv's 61* off 36 balls as great efforts. [[ Alex The target was only 219, but I agree it was a low-scoring match and there was the attack of Underwood, Willis, Botham and Dilley to contend with. Richards' was a swashbuckling cameo, against a very average attack of Kapil, Venkat and Sandhu. Ananth: ]]

  • Umesh on August 24, 2010, 1:01 GMT

    Another great article! :)

    Some great batting performances included within, although I tend to disagree with the limitation of excluding 4th innings chases where two great innings were played. Probably my main motivation for this, is Gilchrists effort in his second test vs Pakistan which was simply astounding!

    I was also privileged to watch Sangakkara's 192 at Hobart, and it was truly a magnificent innings. His stroke play in that innings was indelible; stoic, though aggressive, resistance in the face of a marauding Australian juggernought on another large unbeaten run.

    Sangakkara was on the brink of notching his 3rd double century in consecutive matches when given out in a ludicrous manner, robbing, not only Sangakkara of a remarkable record, but a legion of fans from both sides, of a remarkable experience.

    If only he had had recourse to appeal the decision, who knows where that innings would have ended. Certainly, he did not, in the least, look like going out that day.

  • Kavi on August 23, 2010, 23:24 GMT

    Sanga's 192 in the last innings against Australia should definitely be up there. The Aussies still talk about it. [[ Yes and the fact that he was not out. This was almost like Astle's. The unbelieving eyes of the players and desperation in the voices of commentators when there was the chance of a 1% chance might come through. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on August 23, 2010, 23:22 GMT

    Ananth - superb list. A few embellishments: 1. Greenidge limped through the 214* and Eng had fancied their chances of winning. I believe that series and the 214*, esp., broke Botham for good. 2. In Astle's unbelievable 222, injured Cairns walked in at No. 11 just to ensure the Astle merriment, then at 134*, continues. I club it with Sanga's 192 (given out incorrectly) given the improbability of achieving the target. 3. Perhaps Sarwan/Chander from the 418 chase merit a place. Good that you avoided SRT's 103* - a very good innings but way over-rated by fans and media. Any anchor innings in a 250+ run chase compares quite well with it, IMO.

    As requested earlier, pl come up with a list of top 50/100 innings in the 4 categories (1st inn, 2nd inn, 3rd inn, 4th inn).

  • Avi Singh on August 23, 2010, 22:27 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Excellent list, people may dispute whether they are the 'best' but no one can dispute that these were all quality innings. If anything you could have given Greenidge more credit for batting on practically one leg throughout the 214*.

    From my own point of view, Sourav Ganguly's 98* v Sri Lanka at Kandy in 2001 to chase down 264 is also a worthy knock. Granted that he was assisted by the reliable Rahul Dravid's 75, but he had gone 13 Test innings without a half-century and India had rarely chased down such a total to win, so he was under considerable pressure as batsman and captain and delivered on both counts. [[ Avi This was indeed a very special innings as was Laxman's recent knock. Ananth: ]]

    Dravid's 87 against South Africa at Port Elizabeth in the same year was also an excellent rearguard effort with (rare) support from Deep Dasgupta, given our poor history in South Africa.

    Laxman's recent 100 v Sri Lanka with back spasms was also a lovely 4th innings.

    Would second support of Dravid's 72 and Sachin's 103* also given the contexts.

    Cheers

  • SunilAmanath on August 23, 2010, 22:03 GMT

    I know we Indians just love throwing everything SRT or Indian related on any list that claims to be the best of anything cricket (as evidenced by all the calls to put in another SRT innings, frankly I dont think he deserves being on the list at all) but truly Lara's 153 has no peers. It should be Lara's innings (all by itself) then a regular dozen! That would still give you a baker's dozen just that the baker made one for a very very special occasion.

  • Hanif on August 23, 2010, 20:32 GMT

    Great Insight for the article!! Would love to see a similar article on fourth-innings Bowling heroics quite soon:) All the best for that [[ Hanif Will do that. In fact my in-house editor has asked me to do more of these writing-style anecdotal articles. Ananth: ]]

  • arjune on August 23, 2010, 20:22 GMT

    what ever happen to the greatest chase by west indies to beat australia. chanderpaul and sarwan made centuries.

  • M. Usman Sharif on August 23, 2010, 19:59 GMT

    Really a nice and well balanced article; covered almost everything. But one thing i really could not understand is the limitation of a player to one inning only. Once you lift this restriction, you will encounter Inzamam's unbeaten 58 against Australia in 1994 at Karachi. No doubt it was worth mentioning as he made 60 runs for last wicket to win in for Pakistan.

  • Praveen on August 23, 2010, 19:54 GMT

    How you can forget this innings from Sachin in 4th innings;

    119 not out v England, Old Trafford, 1990 England pile up 519 on a benign pitch, and India reply with 432. England stretch the lead to 407, and though the pitch is still good and the bowling (Malcolm, Fraser, Lewis, Hemmings) not terribly menacing, India find themselves in deep water at 127 for 5 with only one recognised batsman left. And he's only 17 years old. Tendulkar battles for nearly four hours, grimly but never dourly, and ends the day with 119. India lose only one more wicket, ending up with 343. With one more session, they might even have won.

  • Cooch on August 23, 2010, 18:57 GMT

    As you say, Astle's knock was not meaningless - the Englanders were distinctly ruffled towards the end. But at the start there was no real pressure on Astle because the game was gone. Chris Cairns came in at 10 because he was injured and couldn't run - there was nothing Astle could do other than swing the bat, and Lancaster Park is a rugby ground with short square boundaries. Astle smashed the fastest test double ton ever.

    Mark Greatbatch's 146 not out to save the test in Perth in 1990 was a better innings. NZ were following on 290 behind, so it was the third innings and not the fourth... but is was a 4th innings type knock as Australia had the game in the bag and Greatbatch batted the whole 5th day, most of it with Martin Snedden. The Australian attack included Merv Hughes, Rackemann, Lawson and Alderman, and Steve Waugh sledged Greatbatch after every ball. To cap it off he couldn't find his trousers before going out to bat on the 5th day and had to borrow a pair from John Bracewell. [[ Mark I am sure when I do a similar article on the third innings, your namesake's innings will come up for consideration. Ananth: ]]

  • MWD on August 23, 2010, 18:00 GMT

    Hello,

    Nice analysis, but I would like to draw your attention to an innings played by Inzimam in 1994/1995 against Australia in Karachi. The last wicket partnership of Inzi and Mushtaq Ahmed added 57 runs to win the test match. I remember Ian Healy missed a stumping chance when only 4 runs were needed and ended up conceding the winning runs as byes. Any reason for excluding that?

  • mashood on August 23, 2010, 17:58 GMT

    there was another Inzamam special, this one against Australia when he made 58* in Karachi and added 57 for the last wicket to win the match in 1994. although it is understandable that you didn't add that, Inzi's score wasn't high enough, but that innings was an epic, I would place it higher than his 138* against Bangladesh. [[ Mashood Nothing in particular. However pl remember that Inzamam did not orchestrate the chase. He only played a significant role. The credit for that win has to be shared by Inzamam with Saeed Anwar, Mail, Rashid Latif and most of all Mushtaq Ahd. Ananth: ]]

  • Navin Agarwal on August 23, 2010, 17:48 GMT

    @ Gowtham. Hashim Amla's innings at Kolkata was infact in third innings of the match. India won that match by innings. Certainly it was a great innings but for this reason it could not be added in this list.

  • Bala on August 23, 2010, 17:04 GMT

    Another good, concise article Ananth. I think Paul Collingwood's rearguard at Lord's deserved at least a fleeting mention in your also-ran list. That innings was possibly responsible for England going on to win that series, believing in themselves and making the world believe that 2005 was not a flash in the pan. And has resulted in England back at being a competitive cricketing side again. [[ Bala Something amiss here. Collingwood has not played any significant fourth innings certainly not at Lord's. Please indicate which match clearly. Ananth: ]]

    The one other top inning I can recall that deserved a mention - if you get my drift, I do agree with your 10 selections - was Chris Cairns' rearguard against Zimbabwe in Harare (in 98 I think). He scores an unbeaten 71 to save the match for NZ after his side was completely outplayed by Grant Flower all by himself. For an ultra-agressive batsman like him to buckle down to playing out time and an impressive # of deliveries, to save his side from an absolute embarassment, I think that was possibly his greatest test-match inning ever. [[ An excellent defensive innings and a gem. 71 in 238 deliveries was one of the finest match-saving innings ever. Ananth: ]]

  • George Chanderpaul on August 23, 2010, 16:56 GMT

    I believe Chandra and Sarwan innings in 2002/03 vs Aus. is the best in my book; both of dem make hundreds; chase down and beat 418 runs in Antigua and win de test, a record. That is magnificent and the best of all I think! [[ George No doubt that they supported each other very well. But do not forget the role played by Lara, Banks and Drakes. Ananth: ]]

  • love goel on August 23, 2010, 15:57 GMT

    I think one more inning by Ricky Ponting deserves a mention. This is 118 by him against bangladesh(Test no. 1797). As the last inning progressed, wickets started to fall quickly for Australia. The pitch was turning a good amount by now. Ricky ponting took Australia over the line. It was great batting under pressure. Imagine Australia losing a test match to Bangladesh! [[ Goel An excellent innings, But for that Bangladesh would have won comfortably. The win was also only by 3 wickets. Frankly I would have no problem in substituting the Ponting 158 with this. Only thing is that I would have received quite a few comments on how I could select two innings against Bangladesh. Ananth: ]]

  • Love Goel on August 23, 2010, 15:33 GMT

    The list is a very good one. very difficult to find any major inning other than these

    I am tempted to include Vettori innings of 140 in this(Test no. 1932). He came in at number 8, scored 140 against lankan spinners in SSC and was the last man out. The highest score in match was of 143 in the first innings.It could not prevent the loss but remains a good one.

  • Hitesh Bhalla on August 23, 2010, 14:03 GMT

    Ananth, excellent article. As a massive Sachin Tendulkar fan I would point out his innings against England at Chennai. I am wondering if this was excluded due to the reason that it was preceeded by a man-of-the-match innings by Virender Sehwag, the support provided by Yuvraj Singh, or another reason (would be great if you could clarify).

    Similarly (and to prove that I am not excessively biased), it would be great to get an understanding of the exclusion of AB De Villiers' innings against Australia in Perth in 2008. Was this due to the excellent support provided by Duminy, the brilliant innings which preceeded it by Graeme Smith, or another reason.

    Keep up the great work, thanks! [[ Hitesh Both questions very relevant and have been answered fully in earlier comments. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on August 23, 2010, 13:54 GMT

    Tendulkar 103*, Chennai, vs. England, Dec 2008 After the Mumbai terrorist attacks and hence the hitherto inexperienced backdrop to a Test match, Tendulkar provided the ideal result. A winning 4th inning hundred in the 4th highest run chase ever

    The odds were in England’s favour after a 3rd innings declaration setting India a target of 387 .After a great rollicking start by Sehwag and Gambhir with the 5th day seemed a little more evenly poised. However, the pitch was crumbling –i.e. by modern day pitch standards. After the dismissals of Gambhir, Dravid and Laxman it seemed India were gone- with Yuvraj and Dhoni the batters to come. Yuvraj’s shaky temperament was well known and the England team baited him for what it was worth.

    With anyone other than Tendulkar at the other end the innings would in all probability unraveled quickly with England winning in a canter. But one has rarely seen Tendulkar so determined. With Tendulkar providing the calming influence, unhurried and measured- Yuvraj managed to settle down. In good old fashioned grinding Test match batting the target was whittled away. Once the nerves had settled Yuvraj opened up. As the match progressed the result became inevitable and so the match was devoid of any end nail biting tension. The “cherry on top” at the end was however provided by Tendulkar’s hundred.

    There are perhaps several innings played which feature better pure batting –not just by other batsmen but by Tendulkar himself, and hence perhaps other “greater” innings. But the context of the match, the previous bitter sweet backdrop of the losing 136, the feeling that perhaps the entire nation was watching- making it perhaps one of the most watched last sessions in recent Test history and the supercharged emotions make it one of the most “epochal” innings ever.

    “Greatest” innings perhaps not. But “epochal”? In pure emotional terms one of the most “epochal” ever. [[ Abhi Pl see my reply to another comment. I have not gone on win only but the bravery of the Pakistan innings gave the edge.But I have no problems in taking the later classic. Ananth: ]]

  • Gowtham on August 23, 2010, 13:33 GMT

    Hi there,

    I am a huge cricket fan and have been following these blogs with very rapt attention of late.

    Must say you have done an amazing job with the list. Even moments of long cricking couldn't help me dislodge the list.

    Though the two innings below came very close and tempting for me to add in the list:

    ::Rahul Dravid's 72 at Adelaide- I do know the opposition did not have the best possible attack and this was far from Dravid's best innings, but the fact that the Australia was bowling their heart out and the history involved in this match(India's dismal record in Australia) make this innings one fine effort.

    ::Hashim Amla's 123 at Eden Gardens- The only reason that this can not be added into the list is because "dozen of epochal fourth innings". Maybe, just maybe you could change it to "dozen of epochal last innings in a match"-this would fit into the list quite easily. :D

    One hell of a blog nevertheless, kudos!

    Cheers, Gowtham

  • Vinish on August 23, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    I appreciate the fact that you ignored the result since the objective was to identify admirable effort irrespective of the outcome. In the ‘additional list’

    I am tempted to quote Azhar’s 106 in Adelaide in 1991-92 tour to Australia, while chasing 372, taking the team to within 38 runs of victory. The bowling attack was formidable and it was a horrible tour for team India and forgettable for Azhar in particular.

  • FanKasun on August 23, 2010, 13:21 GMT

    What about kumar sangakkara's 192 against Australia in Nov 2007.@ Hobart Match#1847 Aus 1st inning-542 SL 1st inning- 246 Aus 2nd inning- 210/2 target was 507 runs. SL made 410 allout in 104.3 overs. Lost by 96 runs [[ Fan Certainly a good innings. Ananth: ]]

  • mkhan on August 23, 2010, 13:12 GMT

    Was Hanif Mohammad 337 was in 4th inning against West Indies, i am not sure. If yes that should make the list. [[ Khan It was not in the fourth innings. Ananth: ]] Khan

  • Pranesh on August 23, 2010, 13:02 GMT

    MatchId: 1898 Year: 2008 Sachin Tendulkar 103*/V Sehwag 83 (India won by 6 wickets) England: 316 India: 241 England: 311 India: 387 for 4 (Tendulkar 103*,Sehwag 83)

    This followed the Mumbai terrorist attacks, which led to the truncation of the ODI series preceding this Test match. India had demolished England, and were expected to comfortably win this one. Instead, Andrew Strauss got centuries in both innings, and the Indian top order collapsed in the first innings. However, an inexplicable go slow by england, India had a target of 387, but time seemed to be short. Sehwag blasted a 68 ball 83 on the 4th day evening, and Tendulkar followed up with a beatiful innings, and dedicated it to the victims of the Mumbai carnage

  • Jagan K on August 23, 2010, 12:32 GMT

    Sachin's innings against England at Chennai chasing 387 was an epic innings. It was hit a few weeks after the 26/11 attack in Mumbai, which had left all Indians deeply hurt in their hearts. To come out of that and play was amazing. Also, that victory provided happiness to the Indians all over the world. He showed tremendous courage and had carried the hope of all the Indians. It was truly one of the most amazing innings. It deserves to be in this list. Hope you agree with me. [[ I limited myself to one innings per batsman. Tendulkar also had good support. Ananth: ]]

  • neutraility-prevails on August 23, 2010, 12:08 GMT

    you have made one thing wrong here by mentioning that sachin couidnt get the tail support.infact in that chennai test he was the one who dismissed after mongia due to back strain.so blaming tail seems to be senseless here.although it was a great innings but not in par with brian and inzi because it ended in losing cause. [[ I do not agree that the Indian tail did not fail. They should have completed the job. Granted Tendulkar was dismissed which did not happen to Lara and Inzamam. Ananth: ]]

  • Surya on August 23, 2010, 12:02 GMT

    Hi, This ia a good list but i see some fine innings being ignored for better reasons you know. I want to mention the innings of AB De Villiers from South Africa during the record chase of 414runs against australia in their own backyard. I want to put this innings in this list considering the lack of experience of the batsman at that time and the pressure of playing the No.1 Test team in their home conditions. Otherwise this list is a good one [[ Surya Certainly a very good innings. However pl note that there was another 100 and three fifties in the innings. Ananth: ]]

  • gaurav on August 23, 2010, 11:41 GMT

    whatever happened to gambhirs innings against new zeland?

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • gaurav on August 23, 2010, 11:41 GMT

    whatever happened to gambhirs innings against new zeland?

  • Surya on August 23, 2010, 12:02 GMT

    Hi, This ia a good list but i see some fine innings being ignored for better reasons you know. I want to mention the innings of AB De Villiers from South Africa during the record chase of 414runs against australia in their own backyard. I want to put this innings in this list considering the lack of experience of the batsman at that time and the pressure of playing the No.1 Test team in their home conditions. Otherwise this list is a good one [[ Surya Certainly a very good innings. However pl note that there was another 100 and three fifties in the innings. Ananth: ]]

  • neutraility-prevails on August 23, 2010, 12:08 GMT

    you have made one thing wrong here by mentioning that sachin couidnt get the tail support.infact in that chennai test he was the one who dismissed after mongia due to back strain.so blaming tail seems to be senseless here.although it was a great innings but not in par with brian and inzi because it ended in losing cause. [[ I do not agree that the Indian tail did not fail. They should have completed the job. Granted Tendulkar was dismissed which did not happen to Lara and Inzamam. Ananth: ]]

  • Jagan K on August 23, 2010, 12:32 GMT

    Sachin's innings against England at Chennai chasing 387 was an epic innings. It was hit a few weeks after the 26/11 attack in Mumbai, which had left all Indians deeply hurt in their hearts. To come out of that and play was amazing. Also, that victory provided happiness to the Indians all over the world. He showed tremendous courage and had carried the hope of all the Indians. It was truly one of the most amazing innings. It deserves to be in this list. Hope you agree with me. [[ I limited myself to one innings per batsman. Tendulkar also had good support. Ananth: ]]

  • Pranesh on August 23, 2010, 13:02 GMT

    MatchId: 1898 Year: 2008 Sachin Tendulkar 103*/V Sehwag 83 (India won by 6 wickets) England: 316 India: 241 England: 311 India: 387 for 4 (Tendulkar 103*,Sehwag 83)

    This followed the Mumbai terrorist attacks, which led to the truncation of the ODI series preceding this Test match. India had demolished England, and were expected to comfortably win this one. Instead, Andrew Strauss got centuries in both innings, and the Indian top order collapsed in the first innings. However, an inexplicable go slow by england, India had a target of 387, but time seemed to be short. Sehwag blasted a 68 ball 83 on the 4th day evening, and Tendulkar followed up with a beatiful innings, and dedicated it to the victims of the Mumbai carnage

  • mkhan on August 23, 2010, 13:12 GMT

    Was Hanif Mohammad 337 was in 4th inning against West Indies, i am not sure. If yes that should make the list. [[ Khan It was not in the fourth innings. Ananth: ]] Khan

  • FanKasun on August 23, 2010, 13:21 GMT

    What about kumar sangakkara's 192 against Australia in Nov 2007.@ Hobart Match#1847 Aus 1st inning-542 SL 1st inning- 246 Aus 2nd inning- 210/2 target was 507 runs. SL made 410 allout in 104.3 overs. Lost by 96 runs [[ Fan Certainly a good innings. Ananth: ]]

  • Vinish on August 23, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    I appreciate the fact that you ignored the result since the objective was to identify admirable effort irrespective of the outcome. In the ‘additional list’

    I am tempted to quote Azhar’s 106 in Adelaide in 1991-92 tour to Australia, while chasing 372, taking the team to within 38 runs of victory. The bowling attack was formidable and it was a horrible tour for team India and forgettable for Azhar in particular.

  • Gowtham on August 23, 2010, 13:33 GMT

    Hi there,

    I am a huge cricket fan and have been following these blogs with very rapt attention of late.

    Must say you have done an amazing job with the list. Even moments of long cricking couldn't help me dislodge the list.

    Though the two innings below came very close and tempting for me to add in the list:

    ::Rahul Dravid's 72 at Adelaide- I do know the opposition did not have the best possible attack and this was far from Dravid's best innings, but the fact that the Australia was bowling their heart out and the history involved in this match(India's dismal record in Australia) make this innings one fine effort.

    ::Hashim Amla's 123 at Eden Gardens- The only reason that this can not be added into the list is because "dozen of epochal fourth innings". Maybe, just maybe you could change it to "dozen of epochal last innings in a match"-this would fit into the list quite easily. :D

    One hell of a blog nevertheless, kudos!

    Cheers, Gowtham

  • Abhi on August 23, 2010, 13:54 GMT

    Tendulkar 103*, Chennai, vs. England, Dec 2008 After the Mumbai terrorist attacks and hence the hitherto inexperienced backdrop to a Test match, Tendulkar provided the ideal result. A winning 4th inning hundred in the 4th highest run chase ever

    The odds were in England’s favour after a 3rd innings declaration setting India a target of 387 .After a great rollicking start by Sehwag and Gambhir with the 5th day seemed a little more evenly poised. However, the pitch was crumbling –i.e. by modern day pitch standards. After the dismissals of Gambhir, Dravid and Laxman it seemed India were gone- with Yuvraj and Dhoni the batters to come. Yuvraj’s shaky temperament was well known and the England team baited him for what it was worth.

    With anyone other than Tendulkar at the other end the innings would in all probability unraveled quickly with England winning in a canter. But one has rarely seen Tendulkar so determined. With Tendulkar providing the calming influence, unhurried and measured- Yuvraj managed to settle down. In good old fashioned grinding Test match batting the target was whittled away. Once the nerves had settled Yuvraj opened up. As the match progressed the result became inevitable and so the match was devoid of any end nail biting tension. The “cherry on top” at the end was however provided by Tendulkar’s hundred.

    There are perhaps several innings played which feature better pure batting –not just by other batsmen but by Tendulkar himself, and hence perhaps other “greater” innings. But the context of the match, the previous bitter sweet backdrop of the losing 136, the feeling that perhaps the entire nation was watching- making it perhaps one of the most watched last sessions in recent Test history and the supercharged emotions make it one of the most “epochal” innings ever.

    “Greatest” innings perhaps not. But “epochal”? In pure emotional terms one of the most “epochal” ever. [[ Abhi Pl see my reply to another comment. I have not gone on win only but the bravery of the Pakistan innings gave the edge.But I have no problems in taking the later classic. Ananth: ]]