5 epic Test matches India should’ve won
As India plays its 500th Test match, a great milestone in any country’s cricketing history, it would be an irresistible temptation to look back at the alleys of success that the team has ventured into. However, celebrating the lows is just as important as celebrating the highs. As a team that started out as nothing more than a practice-pony for top teams like England, Australia and West Indies, India has certainly come a long way – a dominant side now in all three forms of the game – with arguably the richest and most powerful cricket board.
But, in terms of pure cricket, the Indians have brought something to the game no one else has – passion. No one plays with their heart on their sleeves like Indians do, probably with the exception of West Indies. Yet, India have had their fair share of heartbreaks. 7 times, India lost a match with the opposition chasing down targets with 4 wickets or fewer left. 10 times India have lost chasing, by fewer than 50 runs.
India has been the part of a rare Test match tie. India had to deal with draws where they could have won many a time coming to within 10 runs of the target and not making it thrice. Here, we look at 5 matches where India should have won but couldn’t get past the finishing line.
#1 Chennai, January 1999, Lost to Pakistan by 12 runs
Probably Sachin Tendulkar’s greatest regret and probably the biggest heartbreak in India’s Test cricket history, this match is also one of the greatest Test matches ever played. It was a see-saw of a tussle that wasn’t decided until the last hour. The match also witnessed one of the most open-minded and generous gestures from the crowd which gave Pakistan a standing ovation despite the shattering heartbreak of India’s loss.
Pakistan batted first and were fizzled out for 238 on the first day. Had it not been for two half-centuries from Moin Khan and Mohammad Yousuf, that score would’ve been deplorable. Anil Kumble picked up 6 wickets.
India’s reply wasn’t great either. Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid scored half-centuries to push India to 254 and Saqlain Mushtaq picked up a five-wicket haul including a rare Sachin Tendulkar duck. Pakistan’s second innings experiment worked as Shahid Afridi bludgeoned a 191 ball 141 pushing them to 286 despite a 6-for by Venkatesh Prasad, setting India a target of 271 runs.
India were 82 for 5 but no one switches off TVs in India when Sachin is still at the crease. Battling bad back and the Chennai heat, Sachin scored one of the finest centuries ever in the fourth innings. He added 136 for the sixth wicket with Nayan Mongia. India still needed 53 when Mongia got out in search of quick runs, hoping to end the match before Sachin’s back gave way.
Sachin’s calculated chase eventually gave in to the bad back as Saqlain had the prized scalp and the Little Master fell with India needing just 17 runs. However, India lost its next three wickets for 4 runs, Saqlain ending up with yet another 5-for. A great run chase set up by a great innings under pressure and pain came to an undeserving end. That was also one of the rare occasions when Sachin didn’t even come to collect his Man of the Match award.