Right down to the wire: Top 5 most thrilling Test match finishes
- Rejigging the past and present for some of the most exciting and historic finishes to Test matches.
Australia vs West Indies, 1st Test, 1960-61
It was the era of romance in cricket. It was a time when white flannel contests were tales of Illiad and Odyssey, of cricketing literature. A decade of dullness had followed the Second World War, and a black captain was leading the touring West Indies side for the first time in Australia.
Both teams played aggressive, exciting cricket in the series to elevate the image of the game in the eyes of the public. The charismatic West Indian skipper Frank Worell won hearts with his team’s performance on the field, and with his charm off it.
The first Test match in Brisbane had see-sawing fortunes as West Indies made 453 in the first innings on the back of a classy Gary Sobers’ knock of 132. Australia replied with 505, with Norman O’Neil scoring 181. West Indies’ second innings of 284 was a combined effort, and Australia were set a target of 233 runs off 310 minutes in the 4th innings.
More twists of fortune followed as Australia were all but done at tea, the score reading 109-6. Legend has it that chairman of selectors Don Bradman asked Richie Benaud in the locker room at the break about the plan, and the Australian captain told him, “We’re going for a win”. He backed up his words, assisting all-rounder Alan Davidson in putting up 134 for the 7th wicket.
Australia needed 7 more runs with 4 wickets in hand, and just when you thought you had figured out the end to a riveting contest, Davidson ran himself out.
The last over began with 6 runs needed, and 3 wickets in hand. That was the era of 8-ball overs in Test cricket, and one of the fastest ever bowlers Weslie Hall was to bowl the final one. Benaud departed on the 2nd ball, and Hall missed an easy catch off his own bowling. On the 6th ball, Grout tied the scores and also got run out while attempting a 3rd.
With 1 run to win off 2 balls and a wicket in hand, Lindsay Kline nudged one to square leg but Joe Solomon threw down the stumps at the other end with one stump to aim at.
The crowd at Brisbane witnessed a great climax to a great contest, and the visitors were rightly given a heroes’ farewell at the end of the series.
Score: WI 453 & 284, Aus 505 & 233. Result – tie
India vs Australia, 1st Test, 1985-86
Just the second tied Test in history, this was another game that came down to the last over. Which means that till the final 6 deliveries, all four results were technically possible.
Once again, the match involved Australia, and here too it was the first game of the series. In extreme heat and humidity of Chennai, Australia made 574-7 on the back of a brave Dean Jones double-century. India replied with 397, powered by Kapil Dev’s 119.
Australia declared their 2nd innings at the end of the 4th day at 170-5, leaving India 348 to chase down in the 4th innings on the 5th day.
Gavaskar started the Indian innings confidently with a knock of 90, and Amarnath, Azharuddin and Ravi Shastri all chipped in with useful scores. When Chetan Sharma was dismissed at 331-7 India looked to be coasting to a stunning victory.
But two more wickets followed soon, and by the time the last over began 6 runs were needed with one wicket in hand. Shastri scored 3 off the first 3 balls and last man Maninder Singh blocked the 4th one. With just a single needed in fading light, Maninder fell LBW to Greg Mathews on the penultimate ball, and history was created.
Most felt that it was India’s game to lose, and the batsman till this day maintains that he got some bat on the ball. But credit to Australia for fighting till the end, and constantly bowling an attacking line.
Score: Aus 574-7 & 170-5, Ind 397 & 347. Result – tie.