New Zealand scripted a dramatic 4 runs win over Pakistan in Abu Dhabi which has once again highlighted the fact that when it comes to entertainment - no one can beat Test cricket. In current times, when more countries are opting to focus on the shorter version of cricket, it is matches like these that truly test the mettle of a cricketer!
Pakistan was cruising to a win needing 46 runs on day 4 with six wickets in hand. The low scoring tie was never peaked on any of the previous days but real drama unfolded in the Pakistan chase. Spinner Ajaz Patel picked up five wickets to stifle the Pakistani batsmen who just could not get home despite Azhar Ali’s efforts in the end.
The Black Caps win was the fifth narrowest victory in test cricket by runs. Let us look at some of the other occasions where very fine margins separated teams in test match cricket.
England beat Australia by 10 runs – 1894 SCG
In the first test of England tour of Australia, the home team scored a mammoth 586 runs in the first innings to gain control of the game. They bowled out the Englishmen for 325 and enforced the follow-on. England in the second innings did manage to stem the tide with a perfect 437 runs thanks to a century by Albert Ward. Needing a paltry 177 runs to win the test, the hosts faulted in an unexpected fashion and were bundled out for 166 handing England a 10 run victory. A record for a narrow win which stood for many years in test cricket.
Australia beat England by 3 runs – 1902 Manchester
Trailing 1-0 to hosts England in the 1902 Ashes series, Australia needed a spark to lift their spirits. They had their moment in the Old Trafford test which they won in a thrilling manner by a mere 3 runs. The conditions were tough to bat and Australia could only manage scored of 299 and 86 in their two innings. England did well in the first innings to reach 262 and needed 124 to go 2-0 up in the series. But Aussie spinners Hugh Trumble and Jack Saunders bowled wreaked havoc in tandem to restrict the home side to 120 from 72-2 to script a memorable comeback.
England beat Australia by 3 runs – 1982 Melbourne
The game is still known for the battling display of grit and determination by Aussie legend Alan Border who almost got his team home from a perilous condition. Needing 292 runs to win the Melbourne test, Australia were never in the game after Norman Cowans blew away the home side’s batting line-up with a fiery spell. But David Hookes and Allan Border steadied the ship with half centuries. When the ninth wicket fell, Australia needed another 74 runs still and Alan Border had only Jeff Thompson for the company. The duo fought hard and added 70 runs for the last wicket when Thompson edged one to slip to leave Australia and Border distraught.
England beat Australia by 2 runs – 2005 Edgbaston
England’s famous 2005 Ashes win over Australia was a reversal of sorts in fortune for the Three Lions who had not claimed the Ashes for a period of 18 years. The Edgbaston win is considered by many as the catalyst for England’s triumph as it gave them a morale boost and a much-needed confidence. The 2 runs defeat was a cruel blow for the Aussies who had fought bravely and came to a whisker close to taking a 2-0 lead in the series. Needing 282 runs in the fourth innings, the visitors were 175-8 when Shane Warne and Brett Lee struck a crucial partnership. Warne departed hit the wicket with Australia at 220 still needing another 62 to win. Michael Kasprowicz then got into the attack scoring 20 runs to before gloving a bouncer by Steve Harmison through to the keeper. The sight of a distraught Brett Lee is still regarded as one of the top moments of test cricket.
West Indies beat Australia by 1 run – 1993 Adelaide
The fearsome bowling line up of Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Ian Bishop and Kenny Benjamin scripted a memorable victory for the West Indies over Australia in Adelaide but not before a few hiccups. Chasing 186 runs to win, Australia were on the mat at 102-8. Tim May and Craig McDermott were the last two batsmen left with their side still needing 42. They miraculously escaped the Caribbean wrath for a several overs and added a few runs too. With two runs for a victory and single for a draw, Courtney Walsh accounted for Craig McDermott handing a one-run defeat to their team.
These were some of the great games of test cricket which highlight why it will always be favourites with cricket fans despite several questions over it future.