Marathon Men Of Test Cricket: Top 5 Match-Saving Innings Of All Time
Limited-overs cricket might have been ruling the roost in this generation but nothing can beat Test cricket when it comes to enjoying the true essence of the game. Over the years, the longest format of the game has provided excitement and adrenaline rush like no other format. Seeing an outcome in the five-day game is surely desired by one and all but sometimes even a drawn game leaves the fan sated and fulfilled.
Ever since its inception, Test cricket has witnessed some classic drawn ties where a single player defied all the odds to save his team from a certain defeat. And so here we are presenting to you 5 such instances when batsmen saved the Test against all the odds:
5. Bruce Mitchell:
The series between the mighty England and South Africa in the summer of 1947 was all about Denis Compton and Bill Edrich’s extraordinary run-fests. The African country had very little to cheer about in the first three of the four-match series as they lost all the matches and were staring down the barrel in the final match too. However. Bruce Mitchell played one of the best ever innings in the Test cricket to help South Africa avoid the 4-0 embarrassment.
In fact, Mitchell took his team agonizingly close to a sensational victory as they finished with 423 for 7 chasing 451 – close to an upset victory.
But before that a draw looked very unlikely as the South African team needed to see off 140 overs to save the match. But Bruce Mitchell scored a brilliant 189* to save his team and finish the series on a good note.
4. Brendon McCullum:
Trailing by 246 runs after the end of the first innings and reeling at 94 for 5 in the second innings, very few had given New Zealand a chance of saving the Wellington Test against India in 2014. But New Zealand’s maverick skipper Brendon McCullum had other plans as he dished out one of the best Test innings ever played. Coming out to bat in the first session of day three with an innings defeat looking imminent, the former Kiwi skipper became the first player from his country to score a triple century in Test cricket as New Zealand finished on a mammoth 680 for 8 to save the match.
3. Mike Atherton
When England came out to chase an improbable 479 against South Africa’s lethal pace attack in Johannesburg in 1985, everything was against them. The Three Lions had just two choices- chase down the huge total or bat over 160 overs to pull off an unlikely draw. And they chose the second option with their skipper Michael Atherton leading the way. Defying the likes of Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock, Atherton played a monumental innings that lasted a mammoth 643 minutes to save the match. The former English captain scored 185 not out off 492 balls.
2. Gautam Gambhir
Team India was looking well out of contest in the Napier Test in 2009 after being asked to follow on when they finished their first innings on 305 in reply to New Zealand’s massive 619. With the pitch providing ample assist to the pacer, India needed to bat out of their skin to save the match and they were led by Gautam Gambhir. The southpaw played one of the best innings of his career to earn India a memorable draw. The opening batsman occupied the crease for nearly 160 overs and scored 137 runs in 643 minutes.
1. Hanif Mohammad:
Arguably the greatest and definitely the longest match-saving innings came from the bat of the legendary Hanif Mohammad as he batted for an unbelievable 970 minutes to save the Test against the mighty West Indies in Bridgetown in 1958.
After being enforced to follow on facing a first-innings deficit of 473 runs, the Asian country was looking destined for a humiliating loss. But Hanif Mohammad was not ready to throw in the towel yet as he batted out of his skin to salvage a miraculous draw for Pakistan. The former opening batsman scored 337 runs.
There is an famous story associated with that historic knock from the Little Master. The story says that a West Indian was watching the match from atop a tree. However, he collapsed, and was rushed to the hospital, and when he regained consciousness, he asked “Is Hanif still batting?” But to his horror, the answer to that question was a yes, and he collapsed again.