Top 5 Tests of 2017

England v West Indies - 2nd Investec Test: Day Five
Shai Hope cracked two hundreds at Headingley to lead West Indies to an unlikely win on the final day
Himanshu Agrawal

With 2017 coming to a close, a visit to the past to recall some of the best matches is the need of the hour.

In this section dealing with the most intriguing of Tests to have taken place this year, Sportskeeda looks at some of the greatest and most memorable games of the purest format in 2017. Though only the best five have been listed, many more ran extremely close: New Zealand rapidly hunting down a fifth-day target against Bangladesh at Wellington; Sri Lanka winning by 68 runs against Pakistan on the final day at Dubai, and Australia somehow ekeing out a draw against India at Ranchi.

The top five have been listed below.

#5 England vs West Indies, Headingley

West Indies 427 (S Hope 147, Brathwaite 134; Anderson 5/76) and 322/5 ( S Hope 118*, Brathwaite 95; Moeen 2/76) beat England 258 (Stokes 100; Gabriel 4/51, Roach 4/71) and 490/8 dec (Moeen 84, Root 72; Chase 3/85) by 5 wickets

Unexpectedly, a lowly West Indies side found a rare away win in a Test where all four results seemed possible. Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach set it up for the visitors on the first day when they shook England with early swing and movement off the pitch. Only Ben Stokes, with a quick 100 and captain Joe Root, 59, made contributions in a total of 258.

When West Indies slumped to 35/3 in reply, a repeat of their famous recent struggles seemed obvious – they had been thrashed by an innings in just the previous Test of the series – but Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope dug hard and were rewarded for patient batting as they added 246. Both ended up with centuries – 147 and 134, respectively – with West Indies scoring 427.

England then slipped to 94/3 before Root, Stokes and Dawid Malan rescued them, but the defining innings came from Moeen Ali, who hit a boundary-laden, fluent 84 as England declared on 490 to set West Indies 322 to win.

At 53/2 on the final morning, Braithwaite and Hope joined hands again to add 144. Brathwaite was removed by Moeen for 95, but Hope finished on 118* - the first man to score twin hundreds in a first-class match at Headingley – as, astonishingly, West Indies chased down their fourth-highest target under dark, grey skies.

#4 Bangladesh vs Australia, Dhaka

Bangladesh v Australia - 1st Test: Day 4
Bangladesh beat Australia by 20 runs to record their first Test win against them

Bangladesh 260 (Shakib 84, Tamim 71; Agar 3/46) and 221 (Tamim 78; Lyon 6/82) beat Australia 217 (Renshaw 45, Agar 41; Shakib 5/68) and 244 (Warner 112; Shakib 5/85, Taijul 3/60) by 20 runs

Just a day after West Indies shook the world by beating England, it was Bangladesh who upset a much better opposition. They batted first, but Pat Cummins rocked them with three wickets for 10 runs. Experienced campaigners Tamim Iqbal, 71, and Shakib al Hasan, 84, then got together to put 155, as the rest crumbled against spin to fold up for 260.

Australia were in trouble themselves at 33/4, before Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb steadied the ship. Renshaw made 45 and Handscomb 33, but from eight for 144, Cummins and Ashton Agar accumulated crucial runs to stretch the total to 217 with Shakib picking up five.

43 ahead in the first innings, Bangladesh were sitting pretty at 135/3, but Nathan Lyon proved that his success in India early in 2017 was no fluke when he spun batsmen out one after the other. He bagged 6/82 with Australia being asked to chase down 265 on a turning track.

David Warner then arrived with an aggressive attitude, but once he departed for 112, left-arm spinners Shakib, who got 5/85, and Taijul Islam cleaned up Australia's middle-order with Josh Hazlewood desperately trying to hang on despite a side strain. Australia eventually lost by 20 runs, handing Bangladesh their first Test win against the Kangaroos.

#3 India vs Sri Lanka, Kolkata

After a lot of drama at Eden Gardens, play was ended by bad light with Sri Lanka seven down on the final evening

India 172 (Pujara 52; Lakmal 4/26, Perera 2/19) and 352/8 dec (Kohli 104*, Dhawan 94; Shanaka 3/76) drew with Sri Lanka 294 (Herath 67; Bhuvneshwar 4/88, Shami 4/100) and 75/7 (Dickwella 27; Bhuvneshwar 4/8, Shami 2/34)

In a dramatic draw, the weather played a huge role in ensuring drama towards the dying stages of the Test. Following persistent rainfall, overcast skies aided substantial seam movement for Sri Lanka as India jostled to 172, with Cheteshwar Pujara's 52 the only notable contribution. Suranga Lakmal nipped out four before the conditions eased significantly for Sri Lanka to make 294.

A draw seemed inevitable when, after Day 4, India were just 49 ahead. But the real battle began only on the final day. Virat Kohli smashed a rapid 104* fully aware of the fact that with the sun in Kolkata setting very early, India would have very few overs to press for a win. India declared at 352 and set Sri Lanka a highly unlikely 231 for victory.

At tea, Sri Lanka were already 2/2 with Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar dictating terms with the new ball. Soon, that became 22/4 with even Angelo Mathews gone as Umesh Yadav joined in the fun. Niroshan Dickwella swung his bat – and even indulged in heated words with Shami – but three quick wickets left it to the tail to negotiate India's fired up pacers. Sri Lanka attempted to send their physio onto the pitch to cause a delay, but the umpires would not allow it. In the end, it was dark enough to call it a day, drawing to a close a remarkable Test match.

#2 Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe, Colombo (RPS)

Gunaratne saved Sri Lanka's blushesSri Lanka 346 (Tharanga 71, Chandimal 55; Cremer 5/125) and 391/6 (Dickwella 81, Gunaratne 80; Cremer 4/150) beat Zimbabwe 356 (Ervine 160, Waller 36; Herath 5/116) and 377 (Raza 127, Waller 68; Herath 6/133) by 4 wickets

In a rare Test match where all four innings ended between 340 and 400, Zimbabwe gave a huge scare to Sri Lanka before umpiring decisions and dropped catches handed the hosts a nervous win. Zimbabwe batted first and posted 356 courtesy Craig Ervine's 160, the only healthy score in a scorecard of good starts. From 70/4, Ervine found just enough support to rake up a respectable total as Rangana Herath bagged 5/116.

Almost all of Sri Lanka's batsmen got off to starts too but the highest score remained Upul Tharanga's 71 in a total of 346. Captain Dinesh Chandimal made 55 but opposite number Graeme Cremer took 5/125, giving Zimbabwe a ten-run lead. In the second essay, the visitors were 59/5, but it was Sikandar Raza who turned it around with the lower-order. Posting 127, he set Sri Lanka a target of 388 as Herath again took 6/133.

A mixed start by Sri Lanka meant both teams were in the match, but when they were 203/5, Zimbabwe smelled a miracle victory with only inexperienced batsmen Niroshan Dickwella and Asela Gunaratne the real obstacles. A crucial partnership of 121 followed which involved several chances for Zimbabwe, even one where the third umpire ruled against them. Dickwella eventually departed for 81, but Gunaratne and Dilruwan Perera steadied things to somehow take Sri Lanka home in a historic chase.

#1 Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, Abu Dhabi

Pakistan v Sri Lanka - 1st Test
In a run chase of only 136, Pakistan fell 21 short with Rangana Herath bagging 11 wickets in the match

Sri Lanka 419 (Chandimal 155*, Karunaratne 93; Abbas 3/75) and 138 (Dickwella 40*; Yasir Shah 5/51) beat Pakistan 422 (Azhar Ali 85, Masood 59; Herath 5/93) and 114 (Sohail 34; Herath 6/43) by 21 runs

Sri Lanka arrived in Pakistan's bastion sans Angelo Mathews and soon realised his importance when they slumped to 161/4. Dimuth Karunaratne contributed 93 but it was captain Dinesh Chandimal who stood firm alongside Niroshan Dickwella in a stand of 134 for the fifth wicket. Hasan Ali and Yasir Shah lost all the momentum as the left-right combination dug deep, with Dickwella getting 83. But his captain seemed immovable as he patiently ground out essential runs to remain unbeaten on 155 in a total of 419.

For Pakistan, the top three got fifties, but like the middle-order, threw away good starts to squander a slowly building advantage. Experienced warhorse Rangana Herath and pacer Nuwan Pradeep ran through the middle-order with the highest score being Azhar Ali's 85 while Haris Sohail contributed 76. Herath took 5/93 before Sri Lanka collapsed in the second innings.

It was the turn of Herath's counterpart Yasir to deceive the opposition on a dry track aiding substantial spin. With help from fast bowlers Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali, and part-timers Asad Shafiq and Sohail, Yasir helped bundle Sri Lanka out for 138. Figures of 5/51 meant Pakistan had to chase as little as 136.

Drama soon arrived when Herath, Perera and Suranga Lakmal sent back all the batsmen who came in their way. No partnership of note meant Pakistan lost continuous wickets to eventually fold up for 114. Herath finished as the Man of the Match for his 6/43 in the second innings.

Edited by Arvind Sriram


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