Test humdingers that rival the India-Sri Lanka Eden Gardens finish

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 21, 2017 13:39 hrs
Test Cricket - India vs Sri Lanka

What is it about close finishes? The gripping Test between India and Sri Lanka was a nail biter that had most die-hard fans and even neutrals on the edge of their seats. Did India deserve to win? Should they have bowled their overs faster? Could they have declared sooner? These are all questions that may haunt Virat Kohli. India were so close and yet so far. Bad light was always going to be an issue. Sri Lanka also had the rub of the green going their way with a couple of crucial decisions. In the end they hung on by the skin of their teeth to finish on 75/7 after they were set an improbable 231 to win off 47 overs. However, both teams can hold their head up high for providing such a humdinger of a finish. Here we relive four close matches which ended up with the side chasing the target in the 4th innings escaping with a draw.

South Africa vs India, 3rd Test, Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg, 16th to 20th January 1997.

India: 410 and 266/8 Dec
South Africa: 321 and 228/8

India had suffered heavy defeats in the first two Tests and were looking to register their first ever Test victory in South Africa. India batted well in the first innings and scored 410 with Rahul Dravid scoring a brilliant 148. In reply, South Africa scored 321 to give the Indians a first innings lead of 89. In the second innings Dravid once again was the top scorer with 81 and a quick fire 60 from Sourav Ganguly allowed India to declare their innings at 266/8. South Africa needed 356 to win the Test and the series 3-0

However, there was still many twists and turns to go in this match. The rain gods played spoilsport and the entire quota of 450 overs which is normal for a Test couldn't be completed because of bad light and rain. On the last day South Africa needed 352 runs and India needed nine wickets to win. India reduced South Africa to 95/7 and it looked their long drought of overseas Test wins would be broken. However, fate had other ideas. Daryll Cullinan and Lance Klusener put on a century partnership for the eighth wicket. To make matters worse, due to bad light, India could not bowl their fastest bowler Javagal Srinath and Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly had to bowl spin in fading light. South Africa hung on and were finally offered the light to escape with a memorable draw.

England vs Australia,3rd Test, Old Trafford, Manchester, 11th to 15th August 2005.

England: 444 and 280/6 declared
Australia: 302 and 371/9

This was the 3rd Test of the series in 2005 and the scores were level at one apiece with the outcome in the balance. England batted first and went on the rampage scoring 444 in their first innings at nearly four runs an over which is almost unheard of in Tests. Their skipper, Michael Vaughan led the way with 166. In reply, Australia were bowled out for 302 giving England a lead of 142. In England's second innings, Andrew Strauss led the way with 106 as England declared and set Australia a target of 423 to win and take a 2-1 lead in the series.
England kept taking wickets at regular intervals and Ricky Ponting seemed to be the only obstacle in their path to victory. He played a very responsible and mature knock even though wickets kept falling at the other end. Australia were reduced to 264/7 with 31 overs left and were in deep trouble. Shane Warne joined his skipper and scored 34 before he was dismissed. Ponting continued to hold the fort before he was dismissed with four overs remaining. Australia needed 69 runs to win, but more realistically needed to bat out the overs to clinch a draw. Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath hung on for dear life and the match was drawn.

England vs India, 1st Test, Lords, London, 19th to 23rd July 2007.

England: 298 and 282.
India: 201 and 282/9

This was another Test that was affected by rain but it had a cracker of a finish. England elected to bat first and scored 298 with Strauss making 96. In Reply, Wasim Jaffer made a painstaking 58 as India were dismissed for 201 to concede a lead of 97. The pitch was providing massive assistance to the pace bowlers and the seamers from both sides had a field day. In the second innings, Kevin Pietersen scored a belligerent 134 and England were coasting at 251/5. However, a collapse saw them dismissed for 282 and India were set a target of 380.
The match seemed to be heading towards a draw as India were fighting bravely at 231/5. A sudden flurry of wickets meant that they were reduced to 263/9 when last man S Sreesanth joined Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the crease. They hung around for five overs before they were offered the light. Unsurprisingly, they accepted the offer and then rain came to India's rescue and they got a creditable draw. The result was crucial as India won the next Test and drew the third to win the 3 Test series 1-0.

England vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Lords, London, 12th to 16th June 2014.

England: 575/9 declared and 267/8 declared.
Sri Lanka: 453 and 201/9

Sri Lanka elected to field and Joe Root scored an unbeaten 200 as England piled up a huge total of 575/9 dec in their first innings. Sri Lanka put up a spirited reply scoring 453 with Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews scoring 147 and 102 respectively. In England's second innings, Gary Ballance scored a century and England closed their innings at 267/8.

Sri Lanka were set a target of 390 in 90 overs on the last day. They did not make an attempt as they considered the target to be a stiff one. They seemed to have secured a draw as they were 194/5 with just 11 overs left. However, Prasanna Jayawardene was adjudged LBW to Chris Jordan and the game got a fresh lease of life. England kept chipping away and needed two wickets to win off the last over bowled by Stuart Broad. Rangana Herath was caught by Matt Prior off the first ball to give England hope. Nuwan Pradeep hung on gamely for the next five balls to earn a draw for the Lankans. This proved to be crucial as Sri Lanka won the next Test at Headingley by 100 runs to win the series 1-0.

Ravi Venkat

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