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.
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.
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.
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.
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.