A Test match is a game of grit and patience. Every innings is built gradually, ensuring that the team is in a comfortable position in the match. There have been many instances in Test cricket when a team was faltering in the batting department, and defeat looked imminent. But some player would come to the team’s rescue, steadying the sinking ship.
In this piece we will take a look at 5 of the greatest match-winning Test knocks. Without further ado, let’s dig in.
#5. Brian Lara- 153* v Australia at Bridgetown
Brian Lara is one of the greatest batsmen to ever grace the stage of cricket. The swashbuckling batsman was the central figure in the West Indies by the time the islanders faced Australia at Bridgetown. Australia had thoroughly dominated West Indies in the third Test. Long story short, West Indies needed 308 runs to win. That target seemed impossible when they were reduced to 105-5. Enter Lara, who made do with tail-enders as he started to rebuild the West Indies innings. He hit a precious 153*, guiding the Caribbean team to a bumpy, but iconic victory over the dominant Australia.
#4. Adam Gilchrist 149* v Pakistan, Hobart, 1999
Australia and Pakistan were one of the best teams in the world when they battled each other in 1999. The hosts dominated Pakistan in the first Test, but the visitors made a great comeback in the second Test. Australia were left chasing a hefty 369 runs to win. When Gilchrist came to the crease, the score board read 126-5, and a defeat seemed inevitable. What followed was pure class. Gilchrist put up a 238-run partnership with Langer, hitting 149* from 163 balls. That partnership led Australia to an unlikely victory over the visitors. The innings cemented Gilchrist as one of the best wicket keeper-batsmen in the world.
#3. Graeme Smith 154* v England, Edgbaston, 2008
There are many examples of grit and selflessness in cricket, but only a handful can come close to what Graeme Smith displayed in the famous Test against England at Edgebaston. Smith was reported to have back and elbow issues heading into the match. But this Test meant a lot to the Proteas as it was a chance for them to record their first Test series win in England. South Africa were left to chase 281 against an attack comprising of James Andrson, Andrew Flintoff, Monty Panesar, etc. A win seemed unlikely as RSA lost wickets at regular intervals. Smith came to the crease to do some damage control. He did this by constructing a 78-ball partnership with de Villiers first, and then an unbeaten 112-run partnership with Mark Boucher. Smith overcame great personal adversity to guide his country to a win in an epic chase.
#2. VVS Laxman 73* v Australia, Mohali 2010
VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid need a list of their own for such feats, as they have regularly been the pillars of strength for the Indian team, saving it from many sticky situations. One such situation befell India when they battled Australia in Mohali. With a target of 216, India were left reeling at 124-8. Laxman came in at number 7, staring at defeat. What followed next was an unbelievable display of grit and strategy, with the talented batsman finding a perfect dance partner in Ishant Sharma. The two brought India close to a superb win as Sharma fell. Ojha hit the winning runs, providing a perfect exclamation point to Laxman’s brave stand.
#1. Ben Stokes- 135* v Australia, Headingly 2019
This knock is going to be in the record books for being one of the greatest Test innings in the history of cricket. England were facing a sure defeat to the arch-rivals Australia in the third 2019 Ashes Test. Ben Stokes hit a miracle knock, changing gears at lightning speed. A notable thing in his knock is his 76-run stand with Leach, the last man in for England. Stokes hit the fabled Australian attack which had decimated the English in the Test like he was batting in a T20 match. He finished the match with a four, with the crowd erupting in jubilation as they witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime Test innings.