Famous one-wicket wins in Tests

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16 Aug 2021 | 03:04 PM
authorSamarnath Soory

Famous one-wicket wins in Tests

Here are some of the most famous nail-biting Test matches where teams won by a single wicket

There is nothing better in cricket than a thrilling finish. Limitations on number of overs and time gave birth to the one-day format while the Twenty20 format took the joy of a last-ball finish to a whole new level. Despite the burgeoning popularity of limited-overs cricket, the past few years have shown that Test cricket, the mother of all formats, is still alive and kicking. And the first Test between West Indies and Pakistan at Sabina Park is another example that red-ball cricket remains the sport's gold standard. Until Kemar Roach hit the winning runs and celebrated with last man Jayden Seales, both the Windies and Pakistan had an equal chance of the winning. Here are a few other one-wicket Test victories that remained etched in the memories of fans.

New Zealand beat West Indies, February 1980, Dunedin


The first Test between West Indies and New Zealand in Dunedin was a toxic concoction of poor umpiring decisions made worse by unprofessional behaviour from the visitors. Before the three-match series, Joel Garner went on TV proclaiming "We've beat the Aussies, man, and now were gonna beat you." On the ground, it was a different story. Richard Hadlee claimed 5-34 which reduced the Windies to 140 all out in the first innings. In reply, New Zealand batted through the second day as questionable umpiring decisions frustrated the Windies. Fred Goodall, a local umpire, refused to give John Parker out for a keeper catch when Michael Holding kicked the stumps in agony. In protest, the Windies dropped catches intentionally, arrived late to the field and even threatened to abandon the series. Colin Craft, at one point, knocked umpire Goodall to the ground on his way to bowl. 

Hadlee, despite all hell breaking loose around him, hit 51 while opener George Parker made 65 which gave the Kiwis a 109-run lead. In reply, Desmond Haynes scored a valiant 105 but Hadlee was once again the chief tormentor with 6-68 as New Zealand was set a target of 104. Joel Garner, Croft and Holding unleashed fire reducing the hosts to 44/6. Hadlee (17) and Lance Cairns (19) made crucial contributions as New Zealand were down the last man with four runs to win. Gray Troup (7 not out) and Stephen Brook (2 not out) finished the game but the scars left by the game carried on for a long long time.

Pakistan beat Australia, September 1994, Karachi


After expecting a rank turner at the National Stadium in Karachi, Australia were blown away by the swing and pace of Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram who three each. Australia put up 337 in their first innings after Steve Waugh (73) and debutant Michael Bevan (82) put up 121 for the fifth wicket while Ian Healy (57) and Shane Warne (22) added vital runs lower down the order. Saeed Anwar then made a superb 85 but the middle-order crumbled with Shane Warne and Jo Angel claiming three wickets each. Akram's 39 was the second highest scorer in the innings as Pakistan conceded a lead of 81 runs. The Australians looked good on the third day despite losing captain Mark Taylor for a duck thanks to David Boon (114 not out) and Mark Waugh's (61) third-wicket partnership of 122 . However, Akram and Waqar skittled out seven wickets in the span of 61, setting Pakistan a target of 314 runs.

Saeed Anwar made a fluent 77, while captain Saleem Malik contributed with 43 but Warne hit his full stride on the final day. Combining with fellow spinner Tim May, he shot down the Paksitan middle-order under soaring heat. Inzamam-ul-Haq (58 not out) joined with keeper Rashid Latif (35) for an eighth wicket partnership of 52 which helped calm some nerves. After Warne dismissed Waqar for 7, Inzamam only had Mushtaq Ahmed for company with 56 runs to go. Ahmed grew in confidence as the innings progressed while Inzamam chipped away at the target. With three runs needed, Inzamam danced down the pitch off Warne which sneaked past his bat and pad. Wicketkeeper Healy, expecting the ball to hit the stumps, failed to collect as it ran way to four byes to bring up the win for Pakistan.

Pakistan beat Bangladesh, September 2003, Multan


It was Inzamam-ul-Haq yet again, who stood tall when his side was staring at a big loss. Unlike the strong Australian side nine years ago, the opposition were minnows Bangladesh who hadn't won a single Test match until then. Pakistan were complacent after sealing the series 2-0, but received a jolt when they began their first innings. Having 281 runs on board from the first innings, Bangladesh spinner Mohammad Rafique claimed 5-36 while captain Khaled Mahmud took 4-37, reducing the hosts to 175 all out.

After conceding an unthinkable 106-run lead, Pakistan pacers Umar Gul and Shabbir Ahmed replied with four wickets each in the second innings as Bangladesh were dismissed for 154. Wicket-keeper Rashid Latif infamously claimed a dropped catch of Alok Kapali in that innings which he admitted to later. In chase of 261, Pakistan openers Mohammad Hafeez and Salman Butt put up a 45-run stand, after which the hosts lost 5 wickets for 44 runs. With the target 97 runs away, Bangladesh were three wickets away from their maiden Test win when Inzamam (138 not out) added 41 runs with Shabbir Ahmed and 52 runs with No. 10 Umar Gul to deny them. Mahmud later revealed that the heart break had left the Bangladesh's dressing room in tears.

Sri Lanka beat South Africa, February 2019, Durban


The year of 2019 gave us two of the greatest Test innings of the past decade by left-handers. The first one came from Sri Lanka's Kusal Perera against the combined might of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada in their own backyard. The transitioning Lankan team, led by a fairly-experienced Dimuth Karunaratne, put the hosts under pressure by dismissing them for 235 in the first innings. Vishwa Fernando claimed 4-62 while Kasun Rajitha claimed the crucial wickets of Quinton de Kock (80) and Faf du Plessis (35). Dale Steyn, in the twilight of his career, claimed 4-48 which reduced the Lankans to 191 in their first innings. Perera was the top scorer with 51 while Karunaratne was the second best with 30. South Africa batting with confidence in their second innings and set a target of 304. Du Plessis was the highest scorer with 90 while De Kock (55) scored his second fifty of the match.

Steyn claimed two while Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada and Philander claimed a one each as Sri Lanka were left stranded at 110/5. Perera, then stitched a 94-run partnership with Dhananjaya de Silva (48) to but Sri Lanka lost four wickets in the space of 20 runs. With 78 runs to win and only No 11 Vishwa Fernando (6 not out off 27 balls) for company, Perara launched a brutal counter attack,  scoring 67 off his 153 not out in just 68 balls to take the visitors over the line.

England beat Australia, August 2019, Leeds

The 2019 Ashes in England saw Australia's Steve Smith put on a monumental batting show throughout the series, but all-rounder Ben Stokes' knock in the third Test at Headingley deserves its own place in history. England were staring down the barrel after losing the first Test and a drawn second Test meant that the hosts had to chase down a mammoth target of 359 to keep the series alive. After walking in at the end of Day 3 at Headingley, Stokes found extra motivation from David Warner's sledging and managed to see out the day alongside Joe Root.

On the final day, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon were on song as England went from 156/3 to 261/7 before tea. It looked all over for England after Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad’s dismissals reduced them to 286/9 when Stokes launched his full-blown counterattack. With 73 to win and Jack Leach at the other end, Stokes smashed 51 runs off just 37 balls as he barely celebrated his century. Two runs away from the target, Leach got lucky with a run-out chance and an LBW as he ran a single that levelled scores. Stokes then clubbed Pat Cummins to the extra-cover boundary as he threw his arms wide open and let out a roar to create one of the iconic images in Ashes history.

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