10 most iconic match-saving partnerships in Tests

Du Plessis and De Villiers shared an invaluable partnership
Du Plessis and De Villiers shared an invaluable partnership
Neelabhra Roy

Partnerships save matches. In Test cricket, some partnerships are so important that even if the match is drawn, it feels like a win and if it is won, it feels like the greatest win in the history of the sport. Over the years, several majestic partnerships have been built in Test cricket but there have not been many which have saved matches.

There have been a few though and we take a look at 10 of the best.

#10 Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers vs Australia at Adelaide, 2012

South Africa toured Australia for a 3-match Test series during the end of 2012. The first Test at Brisbane was drawn and the two teams would then face-off at Adelaide. Australia batted first and thanks to skipper Michael Clarke’s 257-ball 230 coupled with centuries from David Warner and Michael Hussey, put up 550 in their first innings.

In reply, the visitors could only manage 388 with Graeme Smith scoring 122 and Alviro Petersen, debutant Faf du Plessis, and Jacques Kallis scoring half-centuries. In the second innings, Australia declared at 267/8, setting the Proteas a target of 430.

South Africa had half of day 4 and the entire fifth day to chase down the total. However, the Proteas lost four early wickets, tottering at 45/4. At this stage, du Plessis and AB de Villiers deployed a very defensive approach to make sure the Proteas lost no more wickets. The duo batted the remainder of day 4 and more than an entire session of day 5, adding 89 runs from 408 deliveries. De Villiers, who is generally an aggressive batsman, scored 33 off 220 deliveries. The partnership was finally broken by Peter Siddle when he got rid of ABD but Du Plessis kept at it and eventually scored his maiden Test century.

The match was drawn as South Africa ended their innings on 248/8 with Faf remaining unbeaten on 110. The partnership between du Plessis and de Villiers was crucial in South Africa saving the match after they lost so many early wickets.

#9 Colin Cowdrey and Peter May vs West Indies at Edgbaston, 1957

Cowdrey and May put up a mighty stand of 411 to help England salvage a draw against West Indies
Cowdrey and May put up a mighty stand of 411 to help England salvage a draw against West Indies

West Indies toured England in 1957 with a very strong side consisting of the three Big Ws (Everton Weekes, Frank Worrell, and Clyde Walcott), Rohan Kanhai, a young Gary Sobers, Wes Hall, and Sonny Ramadhin.

The first Test was held at Edgbaston and England batted first, being bundled out for just 186 thanks to Ramadhin’s 7/49. The Windies replied by scoring 474 in their first innings thanks to Collie Smith’s 161 and fifties from Clyde Walcott (90), and Frank Worrell (81).

In their second innings, England were given a pretty decent start by openers Peter Richardson and Brian Close. However, Ramadhin once again put the hosts in a spot of bother, dismissing Richardson and No. 3 Doug Insole in quick succession.

After Close’s dismissal, England were 113/3, with captain Peter May and Colin Cowdrey at the crease. They were trailing by 175 runs and the presence of Ramadhin, who was spitting fire, meant another low total or even an innings defeat was possible. However, May and Cowdrey batted sensibly, milking the Windies bowlers and ensuring Ramadhin shouted himself hoarse with fruitless lbw appeals.

The duo batted for a day and a half, putting up a mammoth stand of 411 for the fourth wicket before Cowdrey was dismissed for 154 from 500 balls. May declared England’s innings at 583/4 after scoring a 600-ball 285 himself which was his highest score in Test cricket.

England nearly won the match as the likes of Fred Trueman, Jim Laker, and Tony Lock applied the pressure on the Windies batsmen. However, some patient batting by skipper John Goddard (0 from 40 balls) saved the West Indies as they ended the final day on 72/7.

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Edited by Arvind Sriram
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