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Eleven impressive efforts that have helped a team home
August 7, 2008
Graeme Smith's unbeaten 154 was one of the great run-chase innings in Test cricket. Cricinfo looks back on 11 other impressive efforts that have helped a team home
Herbert Sutcliffe, 135 v Australia, MCG, 1928-29
England were buoyant heading into the third Test after taking a 2-0 series lead. Both sides traded blows on the first innings, and Wally Hammond's 200 gave England a slender lead. Then Don Bradman and Bill Woodfull hit centuries and the visitors needed 332 on a wicket spiced up by rain. Sutcliffe countered the tough conditions with a stubborn 135, made from 465 balls in more than six hours. "Scarcely anything in the whole tour approached the long, drawn-out tension of the last innings before the winning hit was made... these runs had to be made on a rain-ruined wicket and anybody who knows the Melbourne ground will appreciate the stupendous effort required," said Wisden. Sutcliffe fell with the job nearly done, and despite a late scare, England wrapped up the series by three wickets.
Arthur Morris and Don Bradman v England, Headingley, 1948
Going into the final day England were in complete control, and it was mildly surprising that Norman Yardley batted on for a few minutes. But in the final outcome his team were well beaten and it was engineered by the joint efforts of Morris and Bradman, who added 301 for the second wicket after Australia had been given 345 minutes to knock off the runs. England paid for an errant selection policy after leaving out Middlesex left-arm spinner Jack Young on a surface that was going to take turn. Jim Laker, the one frontline spinner, was below par and the part-time offerings of Denis Compton and Len Hutton had little impact. "The pitch took spin and the ball lifted and turned sharply," reported Wisden. "Unfortunately, Laker was erratic in length. Compton, bowling his left-hand off-breaks and googlies, baffled the batsmen several times, but without luck." Morris and Bradman had moments of fortune, but produced commanding innings and Bradman was still unbeaten when the victory came with 15 minutes remaining.
Gundappa Viswanath, 112 not out v West Indies, Trinidad, 1976
India's successful chase of 403 is famously recalled for Sunil Gavaskar's 102, but it owed just as much to a second man. Viswanath is often bracketed alongside Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar at the pinnacle of India's batsmen and this was an innings to show why. He stroked a flowing 112 as India set a new world record for a run-chase. "Viswanath was now inspired. Using his feet, he bent the spin attack to his will," said Wisden as West Indies were left with no answers. It was fitting that Viswanath and Gavaskar played such a dual effort - they are also brothers-in-law.
Gordon Greenidge, 214 v England, Lord's, 1984
David Gower was in the rare position of being able to declare against West Indies. And he was made to regret it. On the final morning Gower confidently set West Indies 342 and surely only two results were possible. He'd not counted on an epic display from Greenidge, who bludgeoned an England attack that included Bob Willis and Ian Botham for 214 off 242 balls. "It was Greenidge's day, the innings of his life, and his ruthless batting probably made the bowling look worse that it was," said Wisden. Gower had the dubious honour of being just the second England captain - after Norman Yardley in 1948 - to declare in the second innings and lose. It hasn't happened again since.
Inzamam-ul-Haq, 58*, v Australia, Karachi 1994-95
Mark Taylor's first Test as Australia's captain was a barren affair with the bat as he bagged a pair, but it looked as though he would be celebrating victory when Pakistan fell to 258 for 9 chasing 314. Then Inzamam-ul-Haq, batting at No. 8, shared a final-wicket stand of 57 with Mushtaq Ahmed. Jo Angel was convinced at one stage that he had Inzamam lbw - and was later report for dissent, although not charged - before the winning runs came in agonising fashion. Inzamam came down the pitch at Warne, the ball clipped the pad and beat Ian Healy, rushing away for four. "So ended one of the great Test matches," wrote Greg Baum in the Sydney Morning Herald. "One that was never out of reach of either side, but never in the firm grasp of one or the other, was never dull, never lacked quality, and was never going to finish in a draw."
Mark Waugh, 116 v South Africa, Port Elizabeth, 1996-97
Australia weren't quite the unbeatable force they would become, yet were still clearly the best in the world. South Africa were in a position to level the series following a crushing defeat in Johannesburg, leading by 188, with all ten wickets intact in their second innings. Even when they folded for 168, Australia still needed 270 on a surface where the highest individual score had been Brian McMillan's 55. Mark Waugh resisted the South African quicks, marshalling the chase even as wickets fell regularly. This was about as close to gritty as Waugh got, yet he still retained his elegant strokeplay, with 17 boundaries and a six. He fell with 12 needed and there was a late stutter before Healy sealed the series with a six over deep square-leg.
Carl Hooper, 94 not out v England, Trinidad, 1998
This Test had been hastily arranged following the debacle at Sabina Park, where the pitch was deemed unfit and it turned into an humdinger. Angus Fraser dispatched West Indies' first innings with 8 for 53 and the home side were eventually left with 282 to chase. At 124 for 5, England were on course for a famous victory. The pitch was offering variable bounce for the quicks and spin for Phil Tufnell. Hooper, though, combated both with a calm and controlled innings spanning nearly six hours. He couldn't do it alone, though, and David Williams produced the one significant knock of his short Test career. Hooper was there at the end, shortly after lunch on the fifth day, when the victory came. England had their revenge the following week when they squeaked to a three-wicket victory in similar circumstances.
Brian Lara, 153 not out v Australia, Barbados, 1999
The greatest innings of its kind from one of the greatest batsmen ever to play. This was a Test that had everything. West Indies were dead and buried midway through the third day, falling to 98 for 6 in reply to Australia's 490. However, they fought back with Sherwin Campbell and Ridley Jacobs, and then dismissed Australia for 146. Still, 308 was a tough target, and almost out of reach at 105 for 5. But Lara found an able ally in Jimmy Adams, and the pair added 133. However, with six runs required, Curtly Ambrose edged to slip, leaving last-man Courtney Walsh five balls to survive. Lara then took strike against Jason Gillespie and a nation held its breath until Gillespie sent down a wide half volley, which Lara sent rocketing through the covers. The ball had barely reached the boundary when the invasion began. Lara was a hero and the Caribbean partied.
Adam Gilchrist, 149 not out v Pakistan, Hobart, 1999-2000
This was the beginning of Australia's climb to greatness under Steve Waugh and John Buchanan. They'd won the first Test comfortably, but Pakistan fought back strongly in Hobart through Saqlain Mushtaq and Inzamam. Australia needed 369 to win and the middle order crumbled to 126 for 5 against spin and swing. In walked Adam Gilchrist, who'd hit 88 on debut at Brisbane, to join Justin Langer. "You never know," Langer famously said to his junior partner, and the pair embarked on a stand that would go down in Australian cricket history. They didn't just nudge and nurdle either: the partnership produced 238 runs in 59 overs. Gilchrist was so dominant that he reached his hundred first and was there to strike the winning hit, over mid-on off Saqlain, as he ended with 149 off 163 balls. It was the start of an amazing career.
Mark Butcher, 173* v Australia, Headingley, 2001
England had entered this Ashes series in good spirits, fresh from back-to-back series wins on the subcontinent. However, Australia retained the Ashes in just 11 days and all the talk of was of a humbling whitewash. Everything was going to plan at Headingley as Australia's lead swelled to over 300, but rain forced Adam Gilchrist - standing in as captain for Steve Waugh - to re-evaluate the equation and leave England 315 for victory. A huge ask, but not impossible. Early on the fifth day England were 33 for 2, whereupon Mark Butcher began the greatest innings of his career. Gilchrist refused to go on the defensive and Butcher continued to attack; his cover-driving was thrilling and he took the game to Shane Warne as well. Runs came at such a rate that time was never an issue and Butcher crowned a personal triumph with the winning hit off Warne.
Mahela Jayawardene, 123 v South Africa, Colombo, 2006
In two Tests against South Africa, Mahela Jayawardene scored more runs on his own than a team often manages in an innings, following his 374 with an effort of equal importance in the second Test. Jayawardene's tranquil 123, an innings only occasionally studded by panic, guided Sri Lanka tantalisingly to victory on the fifth day at Colombo. As in his triple-century in the previous Test, his strokeplay here was close to perfection. Wickets fell all around him via fraught misjudgments. Tillakaratne Dilshan needlessly charged Nicky Boje, while Chamara Kapugedera's inexperience cost him with a juvenile slap to cover. Unperturbed, Jayawardene strode on gracefully, and despite the pressure, any scoring opportunities were pounced upon. With 19 required, he was caught at slip as South Africa bravely fought back from the dead, but Jayawardene's ambition and drive had left the tailenders with enough sustenance to ward off the tourists' riposte.
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