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George Binoy and Travis Basevi dig into our stats database

The great escapes

Teams that won Tests despite losing wickets a significant distance away from the target

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

November 30, 2011

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A

Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist bask in a memorable victory
Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist celebrate a memorable run chase against Pakistan in Hobart in 1999 © Getty Images
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After the recent Johannesburg Test, which Australia won by two wickets, a reader, Matt May, asked what has been the farthest a team has been from a target at the fall of each wicket before going on to still win the match. At the Wanderers, Australia were 95 runs away from victory when they lost their sixth wicket, that of Michael Hussey, but they went on to achieve the target of 310 to level the series.

This week's column contains lists of Tests in which a team was farthest from the target at the fall of the fifth wicket through to the ninth wicket but went on to win. Click here for the lists of matches for the first to the fourth wicket.

Bellerive Oval, Hobart, 1999. Chasing 369 for victory, Australia were 125 when they lost Ricky Ponting, their fifth wicket, against a Pakistan attack comprising Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Saqlain Mushtaq and Azhar Mahmood. They needed another 244 runs to win with Justin Langer and one-Test old Adam Gilchrist at the crease. Akram was certain he had Langer caught at the wicket on the fifth morning but umpire Peter Parker did not agree. A fabulous partnership followed. Langer scored 127, a painstaking innings complied over seven hours, while Gilchrist blitzed 149 off 163 balls. They added 238 in 59 overs and were separated only five runs away from victory, which Gilchrist sealed in the company of Shane Warne.

Most runs needed at the fall of the fifth wicket in a Test win
Team FoW Req Score Opposition Ground Start Date Scorecard
Australia 126/5 243 369/6 v Pakistan Hobart Nov 18, 1999 Test 1469
England 48/5 215 263/9 v Australia The Oval Aug 11, 1902 Test 74
West Indies 105/5 203 311/9 v Australia Bridgetown Mar 26, 1999 Test 1453
South Africa 89/5 195 287/9 v England Johannesburg Jan 2, 1906 Test 88
Sri Lanka 137/5 189 326/5 v Zimbabwe Colombo (SSC) Jan 14, 1998 Test 1395
Australia 95/5 179 275/8 v England Sydney Dec 13, 1907 Test 96
Pakistan 99/5 162 262/9 v Bangladesh Multan Sep 3, 2003 Test 1658
West Indies 124/5 158 282/7 v England Port of Spain Feb 5, 1998 Test 1398
Sri Lanka 201/5 151 352/9 v South Africa Colombo (PSS) Aug 4, 2006 Test 1812
Australia 165/5 145 310/8 v South Africa Johannesburg Nov 17, 2011 Test 2018

Old Wanderers, Johannesburg, 1906. South Africa were playing a Test after more than three years and were struggling at 105 for 6, chasing 284, against England. Gordon White and Dave Nourse revived the innings by adding 121 runs for the seventh wicket. White was dismissed for 81, with South Africa 58 runs away from victory, and the hosts soon slipped to 239 for 9. Nourse, who finished unbeaten on 93, added the required 45 runs with the No. 11, Percy Sherwell, who made 22, to give South Africa victory by one wicket.

Most runs needed at the fall of the sixth wicket in a Test win
Team FoW Req Score Opposition Ground Start Date Scorecard
South Africa 105/6 179 287/9 v England Johannesburg Jan 2, 1906 Test 88
Australia 124/6 150 275/8 v England Sydney Dec 13, 1907 Test 96
Pakistan 179/6 135 315/9 v Australia Karachi Sep 28, 1994 Test 1268
India 122/6 132 256/8 v Australia Mumbai (BS) Oct 10, 1964 Test 567
West Indies 288/6 130 418/7 v Australia St John's May 9, 2003 Test 1645
Pakistan 132/6 129 262/9 v Bangladesh Multan Sep 3, 2003 Test 1658
England 93/6 128 221/7 v South Africa Johannesburg Feb 26, 1910 Test 108
West Indies 159/6 107 268/8 v Pakistan Bridgetown Apr 22, 1988 Test 1097
England 157/6 106 263/9 v Australia The Oval Aug 11, 1902 Test 74
India 119/6 97 216/9 v Australia Mohali Oct 1, 2010 Test 1972

National Stadium, Karachi, 1994. Mark Taylor was leading Australia in a Test for the first time, having succeeded Allan Border as captain. He made a pair but was well placed to begin his term with a victory because Pakistan, chasing 314, needed 131 more when they lost Basit Ali, their seventh wicket. Inzamam-ul-Haq, batting at No. 8, lifted the chase from 184 for 7, adding 52 for the eighth wicket with Rashid Latif. At 258 for 9, however, with last man Mushtaq Ahmed for company, Inzamam was battling to avert Pakistan's first defeat in Karachi. They batted aggressively against an attack depleted by injuries to Craig McDermott, who did not play the match, and Glenn McGrath. The last-wicket partnership was worth 57 in 8.1 overs, the winning runs coming through four leg-byes after Inzamam charged Warne and Ian Healy failed to collect and complete a stumping.

Most runs needed at the fall of the seventh wicket in a Test win
Team FoW Req Score Opposition Ground Start Date Scorecard
Pakistan 184/7 130 315/9 v Australia Karachi Sep 28, 1994 Test 1268
Pakistan 164/7 97 262/9 v Bangladesh Multan Sep 3, 2003 Test 1658
India 122/7 94 216/9 v Australia Mohali Oct 1, 2010 Test 1972
Australia 185/7 89 275/8 v England Sydney Dec 13, 1907 Test 96
West Indies 180/7 86 268/8 v Pakistan Bridgetown Apr 22, 1988 Test 1097
England 198/7 84 282/9 v Australia Melbourne Jan 1, 1908 Test 97
England 187/7 76 263/9 v Australia The Oval Aug 11, 1902 Test 74
New Zealand 217/7 61 278/8 v Pakistan Dunedin Feb 9, 1985 Test 1012
West Indies 248/7 60 311/9 v Australia Bridgetown Mar 26, 1999 Test 1453
South Africa 226/7 58 287/9 v England Johannesburg Jan 2, 1906 Test 88

Mohali, 2010. It was the first Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and India needed 216 in the fourth innings to beat Australia. At 124 for 8 that looked unlikely. Australia had not yet dismissed VVS Laxman, though, and he had Ishant Sharma at the other end. Ishant contributed 31 to an 81-run partnership for the ninth wicket before falling lbw to Ben Hilfenhaus. Laxman, who had Suresh Raina for a runner, then shepherded India to their first one-wicket victory in Tests. He finished unbeaten on 73 after showing rare emotion on the field, yelling at Pragyan Ojha because of his running between the wickets during a tense finish.

Most runs needed at the fall of the eighth wicket in a Test win
Team FoW Req Score Opposition Ground Start Date Scorecard
India 124/8 92 216/9 v Australia Mohali Oct 1, 2010 Test 1972
Pakistan 236/8 78 315/9 v Australia Karachi Sep 28, 1994 Test 1268
England 209/8 73 282/9 v Australia Melbourne Jan 1, 1908 Test 97
West Indies 248/8 60 311/9 v Australia Bridgetown Mar 26, 1999 Test 1453
West Indies 207/8 59 268/8 v Pakistan Bridgetown Apr 22, 1988 Test 1097
Pakistan 205/8 56 262/9 v Bangladesh Multan Sep 3, 2003 Test 1658
Australia 219/8 55 275/8 v England Sydney Dec 13, 1907 Test 96
South Africa 230/8 54 287/9 v England Johannesburg Jan 2, 1906 Test 88
New Zealand 228/8 50 278/8 v Pakistan Dunedin Feb 9, 1985 Test 1012
England 214/8 49 263/9 v Australia The Oval Aug 11, 1902 Test 74

St. John's, Antigua, 2000. Justice Qayyum's report on match-fixing had been published on the eve of the third Test between Pakistan and West Indies. Wasim Akram was on fire, and finished the match with 11 for 110. It wasn't enough for Pakistan, though. They had 216 to defend in the fourth innings and were on course to do so after West Indies crashed from 144 for 3 to 197 for 9. The last pair, Courtney Walsh and Jimmy Adams, were stuck at the same end at one point but Saqlain Mushtaq fluffed the run-out opportunity. West Indies had plenty of other fortunate moments earlier in the innings as well. Walsh eventually survived 24 balls, and Adams batted 212 deliveries for his 48 without hitting a boundary, as they added the 19 West Indies needed to win the series.

Most runs needed at the fall of the ninth wicket in a Test win
Team FoW Req Score Opposition Ground Start Date Scorecard
Pakistan 258/9 56 315/9 v Australia Karachi Sep 28, 1994 Test 1268
South Africa 239/9 45 287/9 v England Johannesburg Jan 2, 1906 Test 88
England 243/9 39 282/9 v Australia Melbourne Jan 1, 1908 Test 97
Australia 222/9 38 260/9 v West Indies Melbourne Dec 31, 1951 Test 345
West Indies 197/9 19 216/9 v Pakistan St John's May 25, 2000 Test 1497
England 248/9 15 263/9 v Australia The Oval Aug 11, 1902 Test 74
India 205/9 11 216/9 v Australia Mohali Oct 1, 2010 Test 1972
West Indies 302/9 6 311/9 v Australia Bridgetown Mar 26, 1999 Test 1453
England 168/9 5 173/9 v South Africa Cape Town Jan 1, 1923 Test 149
New Zealand 100/9 4 104/9 v West Indies Dunedin Feb 8, 1980 Test 873

Travis Basevi is a cricket statistician and UK Senior Programmer for ESPNcricinfo and other ESPN sports websites. George Binoy is an Assistant Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by simonpf on (December 2, 2011, 14:08 GMT)

It will be interesting to have the opposite list, which is: For each wicket fall, what was the closest a team was to their target but ended up losing?

Posted by golgo_85 on (December 1, 2011, 11:42 GMT)

Hobart test - Langer didn't walk 'cause umpire Parker was the only one on the ground didn't think he was out. Antigua test - Jimmy Adams didn't walk 'cause Doctrove couldn't handle the thought of Pak winning a Test series in the Windies for the first time in history. Shameless cricketers, even more pathetic umpiring.

Posted by DrAtharAbbas on (December 1, 2011, 5:12 GMT)

St. John's, Antigua, 2000. I was watching live on TV like many others. so many decisions were biased. It had become a joke. There was one clear big edge to the keeper which everyone knew was out, off Wasim Akram. Even the batsman was embarrassed to continue as it was so obvious. There were also at least 2 LBWs blatantly obvious turned down that day. This survival was more thanks to the umpire than any batting skills. In Pakistani street cricket terminology it was said about that pair "Giving them out was not part of the rules that day" (UN KA OUT NAHEEN RAKHA)

Posted by DrAtharAbbas on (November 30, 2011, 23:07 GMT)

I suggest an opposite list for the bowlers: When lots of wickets are needed for victory and not many runs are there to defend for the bowlers. As an example Sarfraz Nawaz's famous 9 wicket haul at Melbourne Australia. It can be set up exactly like the above list. Least run to defend when 9 wickets are needed, then least runs to defend to take 8 wickets for victory. Let us see the bowlers this time.

Posted by   on (November 30, 2011, 18:12 GMT)

The Australia-Pakistan-India Test series was also soured by umpiring decisions and controversies. Slow motion replays on television exposed the incompetence of some of the Australian umpires. The Aussies were no doubt a gifted combination, but would they have won the twin series so convincingly if the umpiring had been better?

At several crucial points in the games, decisions always went against the visitors. The one vital decision which took away Pakistan's chances was when umpire Peter Parker declared Justin Langer not out at the beginning of the last day in the second Test at Hobart. The click was audible, the pads and the boots were nowhere near the bat and yet Langer was reprieved.

Peter Parker had erred earlier in the match when he gave Langer out caught in the first innings. The ball clearly came off the pad. Curiously, Parker apologised to Langer in a press interview and it was widely presumed that he made it up for Langer in second inning.

Posted by allblue on (November 30, 2011, 17:13 GMT)

A fascinating list, thank you. It got me thinking of the 'nearlies', when the team batting fourth nearly got there. In particular the famous Ashes Test at Edgbaston in 2005, which England won by two runs. Australia were chasing 282 and they lost their 7th wicket at 137 (145 short), their 8th at 175 (107 short) and their 9th at 220 (62 short). Had Brett Lee's cover drive been a yard or two either side of Michael Vaughan on the boundary, that innings would be top of the last three lists! Such fine margins...

Posted by   on (November 30, 2011, 14:43 GMT)

Please note even NZ is not there in the list of losing teams in a close finish match..

Posted by   on (November 30, 2011, 13:32 GMT)

@jockbeer I think it more shows the fact that other teams tend to play their best cricket against Australia. If their wins are deserved, as most of these were, congratulations to them. Don't be so bitter...

Posted by codegreen on (November 30, 2011, 13:16 GMT)

57 in 8 overs and that for the last wicket vs the australia shows inzamams composure and great match winning ability, ODI close winning stats should also be added

Posted by   on (November 30, 2011, 13:03 GMT)

sri lanka too will not allow tailenders to win a match according to this LIST

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George BinoyClose
George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket

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