The advent of T20 cricket has brought in a change in the perspective of the game. Packed with entertainment from the word go and results in shorter duration has brought about more audience involvement in the shortest format. In any case, if you are a true cricket lover, the gratification you get by following Test cricket is matched to none. If asked for proof, the first Test between India and New Zealand in Kanpur stands tall to invalidate all naysayers.
It's not the only one, the Headingly Test in 2019 between England and Australia, India vs Australia at the Gabba in 2021, Sri Lanka against South Africa in 2019 in Durban, the list goes on and on. If winning by a close margin is one-of-a-kind entertainment, so are drawn Test matches in which the last wicket fight for survival. Let’s look at some of the best last wicket thrillers that have ended in a draw:
England vs West Indies, 2nd Test at Lord’s 1963
After a thumping win in the first Test of the series, West Indies led by Sir Frank Worrell, were on course for another win in the second Test. Chasing a target of 234, England were struck with a blow as Michael Cowdrey suffered a hit on his left arm when England were on 72/3. Brian Close, at number six, played a blinder as England came close to the target. But he was dismissed by Charlie Griffith with England needing 15 runs. The ninth-wicket partnership of nine runs between David Allen and Derek Shackleton brought it even closer. But Shackleton was dismissed through a run-out and Cowdrey came out with a plaster and a broken left arm to save England from a defeat. With six required of six for England and one wicket for West Indies, Wes Hall delivered a maiden and the match ended as a draw. Even though it was just a matter of one over to survive, the 1963 match goes down as one of the most dramatic ones.
Zimbabwe vs West Indies, 1st Test in Harare 2003
On the fifth day, Zimbabwe declared at a score of 200/7 at the stroke of lunch handing West Indies a near impossible chase of 373. Wickets at regular intervals kept Zimbabwe at bay. A collapse from 171/5 to 204/9 within 13.2 brought Zimbabwe even more close to a win. However, Ridley Jacobs alongside Fidel Edwards battled for 13.3 overs (71 balls) just to score three runs. More than the runs, it was those precious balls that they ate up that handed West Indies a draw in the first Test.
West Indies vs England, 3rd Test in Antigua 2009
A scrappy batting effort in the first innings saw West Indies chase an unassailable target of 503 runs in the fourth innings with a day and a half left in the Test. Which meant, the only result possible for them was a draw. Apart from Ryan Hinds, every top seven batsman batted 40+ balls, still that wasn’t enough as West Indies had an hour’s play left when they were nine down. As the pair of Edwards and Daren Powell were battling hard, drama engulfed as bad lights forced Andrew Strauss to bowl only his spinners. After three overs of spin, the game came to a total end as light deteriorated and play wasn’t possible. The tenth wicket pair of Edwards and Powell batted 10 overs to help West Indies settle with a draw.
India vs England, 1st Test at Lord’s 2007
Who doesn’t remember the drama in the first Test of the famous 2007 India’s tour of England? The reason behind India’s series win that tour was the draw in the first Test. India were handed a target of 380 runs in the fourth innings. Starting the fifth day at 137/3, India were jolted early as Sourav Ganguly and Dinesh Karthik, the two set batsmen were packed off within the first 10 overs. Then another collapse was triggered when Laxman was dismissed at 231. The next four wickets fell for 32 runs and Dhoni at one end was stranded with Sreesanth. Also, the overhead conditions were getting worse and it was a matter of time for the cloud to burst. The last wicket duo batted five overs and the conditions got worse and the match was called off. On a special note, if DRS was available in this series, Sreesanth would have been gone in the 95th over.
England vs Australia, 3rd Test at Old Trafford 2005
Most of the Ashes matches are action-packed ones, but this one holds a special place. A heroic effort by the Australian skipper Ricky Ponting, in the fourth innings would have become a blunder if they had lost it. Nearly four overs left in the day with Glenn McGrath the last person in the hut against a hostile English bowling lineup, Ponting attempts a pull and is caught down the leg side. Despite it, McGrath and Brett Lee endure blows and battle hard for four overs to help Australia draw the Test.
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