Test cricket is a game of patience and perseverance. Especially, batters have to show much endurance in the middle in order to stay firm at the crease. Those who can show real fighting spirit against tough bowling attacks in a pressure situation are considered to be the best batsmen in the Test format. Sometimes we see extraordinary game-changing knocks which fascinate cricket fans. This article highlights some of the memorable match-winning knocks in Tests.
Unforgettable individual innings in the Test format
We have seen many match-winning Test knocks in cricket history and understandably, identifying the best from the bests is always a difficult task. To keep that in mind, we have picked some present-day jaw-dropping innings that stunned the cricket world. So, without further ado, let’s look at some memorable match-winning knocks in Tests.
7) Kevin Pietersen 186 (England v India, Mumbai 2012)
Everyone knew Mumbai’s Wankhede pitch would become a real nightmare for the batters from day 3, understandably Indian captain MS Dhoni didn’t have to think twice to bat first. India’s plan was to score big in the first innings and put pressure on the English batting line-up, but they only managed to score 327. This was the second Test and England was under pressure after losing the series opener.
The visitor had to respond well to stay alive in the contest. Kevin Pietersen rose up to the occasion and took an aggressive approach against a very strong India’s spin-heavy attack. Pietersen played all types of shots in his innings just to put India on backfoot and made a brilliant 186 off just 233 balls. England had nearly 100 runs first innings lead thanks to Pietersen's inspiring knock. The visitor eventually sealed the match by 10 wickets.
6) Adam Gilchrist 149* (Australia vs Pakistan, Hobart 1999)
It was a do-or-die match for Pakistan after losing the first match by 10 wickets in Brisbane. The visiting side were in a good position to upset the host in the second Test in Hobart but a scintillating batting display by Adam Gilchrist completely changed the scenario of the game as Australia clinched the match as well as the series with a game in hand.
Pakistan set Australia a 369-run target in the fourth innings and picked up five Australian wickets in just 126 runs while defending the total. After that, it was all about Adam Gilchrist show. His 238 runs sixth wicket partnership with opener Justin Langer eased Australia to a 4-wicket victory. Gilchrist played an unbeaten 149*-run knock, truly a champion knock.
5) Graeme Smith (154* against England, Edgbaston 2008)
Graeme Smith single-handedly guided South Africa to the victory while chasing 281 runs in the fourth innings of the third Test against England back in 2008. It should be mentioned that Smith was playing with an elbow injury but his heroic 154* runs knock stunned the cricket world as the visiting side won the match by 5 wickets and took a 2-0 lead in the series. It was also one of the finest captaincy knock ever across all formats.
4) VVS Laxman 281 (India v Australia, Kolkata 2001)
No one thought VVS Laxman will create history and make a name for himself in a crucial match against Australia. The visitor took lead in the first innings but their effort went in vain because of Laxman's inhuman innings. Laxman played one of the greatest Test knocks 281 and formed a mammoth 376-run partnership with Rahul Dravid in the fifth wicket, which helped India to put a massive total on board to defend. Australia eventually bowled out for 212 runs and lost the match by 171 runs. With that knock, VVS Laxman had cemented his place in the Indian Test set up.
3) Ben Stokes (135* against Australia, Headingly 2019)
England charismatic all-rounder Ben Stokes played one of the finest match-winning knocks in Test cricket history on 25th August 2019 against arch-rival Australia. Stokes brilliant 135* runs saw England pull off a sensational 1-wicket victory in the third Test of the Ashes and leveled the series 1-1.
England lost 4 wickets for 159 runs in a chase of 359. Stokes and Bairstow then repaired the innings with an 86-run stand between them but England’s innings fell apart after the departure of Bairstow and lost 9 wickets when they had 286 runs on board. At that stage, the Australian campaign was hopeful of winning the match but who could have thought that Ben Stokes would turn out to be a savior for the English side? Stokes hammered the Aussie bowlers all over the ground and clinched the match with an unbeaten 76*-run partnership with Jack Leach in the 10th wicket.
2) Kusal Perera (153* against South Africa, Durban 2019)
Sri Lanka’s Kusal Perera played an unreal 153*-run match-winning knock against South Africa in Durban back in 2019, which goes down as the greatest fourth innings knock ever. It was the first of the two-match Test series and the expectation was that South Africa will comfortably seal the match. But Kusal Perera, though, had other ideas. He made an unbeaten 78*-run partnership with Fernando in the 10th wicket and stunned the Proteas with a 1 wicket victory.
1) Brian Lara (153* against Australia, Bridgetown 1999)
The Prince of Port of Spain – Brian Lara played many memorable Test innings in almost two decades of his international career but his standout knock would be 153* against Australia if we were asked to pick Lara’s most special innings.
It was the third Test of the series and both teams were eager to win the match. The Windies were 105/5 while chasing 308, but Lara’s magical knock broke Australia’s heart as his unbeaten 153* scripted a 1-wicket victory over the visitor.
We have witnessed many great individual knocks over the years but the above-mentioned innings were the bests of the modern era and deservedly have earned a place in the list of most memorable match-winning knocks in Tests.