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In these two months of January and February in 2021, we saw an incredible chase by India against Australia at the Gabba, Brisbane in a series decider and a highest chase in Asia by a second-string West Indies side. The chase reminded many fans of old chases by some teams. We will take a look back at the top six successful chases in Test match cricket since the start of the 21st century.
1. The Night Test victory
You heard and saw the Day/Night Test match? But you ever heard of the original D/N match?
England toured Pakistan in 2001 for three-match series. The first two Test matches ended in a draw while the third Test was in Karachi. For over 50 years, Pakistan had never lost a Test match at National Stadium. However, something incredible happened during the third Test match.
Batting first, Pakistan posted 405 with the help of centuries from Inzamam ul-Haq (142) and Mohammad Yousuf (117). England replied with 388 on the back of Mike Atherton’s 125.
Leading by 17 runs, a typical Pakistan second innings show happened. They were bowled out for 158. They set England the target of 176. The chase was set by Graham Thrope (64*) and Graeme Hick (40) as England chased the target down in utter darkness.
It was Pakistan’s first-ever loss in Karachi.
2. Highest successful chase in history
The highest chase in Test cricket’s history. Australia had toured West Indies for a four-Test match series. Australia had already sealed the series as they won 3-0 with a game to go in Antigua.
Australia batted first but they were all out for 240 runs, with Justin Langer top-scored with 42. Jermaine Lawson took 7-78 in the run-through. In reply, West Indies as well were bowled out for 240 with Andy Bichel and Brett Lee taking three each. Brian Lara top-scored with 68 for the hosts.
Then the next innings began. Australia made a brilliant comeback on the back of Mathew Hayden’s 177 and Langer’s 111 to post 417. West Indies were set 418 to win the game.
Ramesh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul scored centuries in what began to be a dream chase after a start of 74-3. Those centuries led West Indies to 372 before they lost their seventh wicket. But Omari Banks (47*) and Vasbert Drake (27*) hit the remaining runs to win the match. Till this date, it is still the highest successful chase.
3. The “Maghrib” chase
Sri Lanka toured the UAE for three-match Test series. Since taking over UAE as home series, Pakistan have never lost a home Test series under Misbah ul-Haq. However, Pakistan were trailing 1-0. The first Test match was drawn and the second Test match was won by Sri Lanka.
Coming to the third match, Sri Kank put on 428-9 (declared) and bowled Pakistan for 341. They took the lead of 123 and then managed 214. It was the last day and two sessions remaining when Sri Lanka were bowled out for 214. Pakistan were set 302 to win under two sessions and roughly 60 overs.
What followed was an incredible run by Pakistan. Led by Azhar Ali’s century, unbeaten 68 from Misbah and a quick, gritty knock from Sarfraz saw the fastest chase in a three-match Test series. It was famously quoted as the “Maghrib” chase.
4. The second best in history
The second-highest successful chase in Test history belongs to South Africa in 2008. The Proteas toured Australia for the three-match Test series and everyone was gearing up for the first Test, held in Perth.
Australia batted first and it was a teamwork from Australian batsmen to put on 375 with Simon Katich (83) and Michael Clarke (62) top-scored. Then Mitchell Johnson special of 8-61 bowled South Africa out for 281, giving Australia a lead of 91.
Batting again, Australia managed 319 on the back of Brad Haddin’s 94, setting South Africa the target of 414.
What was followed was a great performance from the top order, apart from Neil McKenzie, as everyone crossed fifties. The batsmen who crossed hundreds were Graeme Smith (108) and AB de Villiers (106*). In fact, unbeaten scores from AB de Villers and JP Duminy (50*) guide South Africa to an incredible chase of 414 with six wickets to win. This was also JP Duminy’s maiden Test series and he would go on to score a century in the next match to seal the series.
5. Ben Stokes’ incredible innings
One of the greatest comebacks by England in Test cricket. The Ashes 2019 was held in England and Australia had already 1-0 up in the series after they won the first Test match and the second game was drawn.
Coming to the third Test match, Australia were bowled out for 179. Marnus Labuchagne (74) and David Warner (61) top-scored for their side. Jofra Archer took 6-45.
However, the second innings was even bitter. England were bowled out for 67! Josh Hazlewood took 5-30 as England’s horrid batting shocked the world. With a lead of 112, Australia put 246, again top-scored by Labuchagne with 80.
England were set 358 to chase. Joe Root (77) and Joe Denly (50) scored fifties, but what Ben Stokes produced was one of the remarkable innings in Test cricket. England were reduced to 286-9 with about 80 odd runs were requied. Last man Jack Leach paired up and Stokes and they build on.
There was every bit of drama in the back end. Stokes eventually hit the winning runs and ended up 135 not out in one of the greatest chases in Test cricket history.
6. The great comeback
Let me do one better than Ben Stokes, which happened about six months earlier. A weak Sri Lankan side toured South Africa for a two Test match series.
South Africa batted first and were bowled out for 235. Quinton de Kock top-scored with 80. Sri Lanka’s Vishwa Fernando took 4-62.
Sri Lanka were bowled out for 191. Kusal Perera top-scored with 51. With a good lead of 44, South Africa could only add 259. Captain Faf du Plessis top-scored with 90 and de Kock scored 55. V Fernando again scored 4-71. South Africa set Sri Lanka to chase 303.
Sri Lanka were 226-9 and were down and out. Kusal Perera remained not out. Vishwa Fernando paired up Perera and together put a stand where South Africa could not break.
Kusal Perera fittingly hits the winning runs as he remained 153* and Sri Lanka won the game. Everyone compared the innings with Brian Lara’s magnificent 153* against Australia in 1999.
What’s more is that Sri Lanka would become the first Asian team to win series in South Africa.
Which was your favorite chase in Test cricket?
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