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5 Test match thrillers

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Bowler_set_up_wicket_batsman_cricketThere’s a reason why purists keep claiming that Test cricket is the best format of the game. While ODI cricket has been struggling to survive and T20s are getting monotonous, Test cricket continues to enthrall cricket fans with its myriad colors.

What has helped the longer format is that, unlike the past, we are getting to see results in almost every game these days. And what’s even more exciting is that many of these results are turning out to be close contests. In the last few years alone  – the most recent of which was the thriller between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at Abu Dhabi  – there have been plenty of nail-biting Test matches that have gone down to the wire and have kept the viewers on the edge.

Here is a look, then, at the five closest Test victories by margin of runs in the last seven years.

New Zealand wins by 7 runs

Match – Australia v New Zealand at Hobart, 2011:

The Trans-Tasman rivalry, although not as celebrated some of the other rivalries of the cricketing world, has produced some real gems every now and then. The 2011 Test between Australia and New Zealand at Hobart was a true Test thriller. The visiting New Zealand side had lost the first Test of the series and hence this match at Hobart was crucial to them.

The Hobart pitch had a lot of spice and in the low-scoring affair neither team could cross the 250-mark after the completion of the first three innings. Australia was set a target of 241 to win the match and the home side began the chase steadily. At 122-1, the chase looked to be in the bag. But then, Doug Bracewell (6-40) produced a sensational spell of seam bowling that ripped the Australian batting order apart. Within no time, they had succumbed to 199-9 thanks to his sharp and incisive bowling.

Despite a fantastic last-wicket partnership of 34, Australia lost the game by just 7 runs. The dramatic finish gave the Kiwis their first win in Australia in 26 years.

England wins by 14 runs

Match – England v Australia at Nottingham, 2013:

The very first Ashes Test of 2013 turned out to be a true thriller. The Nottingham pitch assisted a lot of seam and movement and the home side could only muster 215 after batting first. They then put up a strong bowling show and restricted Australia to 280, following which they put up 375 in their second innings. Australia thus needed 311 to win the Test.

The opening pair of Shane Watson (46) and Chris Rogers (52) began the chase perfectly and at one point Australia was comfortably placed at 111-1. But then a combination of some ordinary shot selection and superb bowling led to a massive fall of wickets.

James Anderson (5-73) was the wrecker-in-chief and Australia was soon reeling at 231-9. However, Brad Haddin (71) forged a crucial 65-run partnership for the tenth wicket with James Pattinson (25) and nearly took Australia home. That wasn’t to be, though, as Anderson removed Haddin towards the end to get England a memorable and thrilling 14-run victory.

Bangladesh wins by 20 runs

Match – Bangladesh v Australia at Dhaka, 2017:

In what would most certainly go down as the most pivotal moment in their Test cricket history, Bangladesh shocked the visiting Australian side in the very first Test of the series. On a pitch that assisted spin heavily, the two sides struggled to score runs and after three innings into the match, neither had been able to cross the 300-run mark.

In the last innings, Australia was set a target of 265 to win the Test. Led by a terrific unbeaten 123 from opener David Warner, Australia surged towards the target and was comfortably placed at 171-2. However, the pitch was generating prodigious spin and bounce and soon the Bangladeshi spin trio of Shakib Al Hasan, Taijul Islam and Mehdi Hasan Miraz began choking the visitors.

Wickets fell in a heap and within no time, Australia had crumbled to 199-8. Although the tail-enders did take Australia pretty close, the opposition spinners were simply too good for them and in the end Bangladesh earned themselves a historic though nerve-wracking 20-run victory.  

Sri Lanka wins by 21 runs

Match – Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Abu Dhabi, 2017:

This was just the kind of morale-boosting victory that Sri Lanka needed after their recent spate of poor form. The first Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Abu Dhabi recently was a match that was going nowhere for the first four days, but then, out of nowhere, took a dramatic twist.

After both teams had plodded and scored 400-plus runs in their respective first innings, things took an unexpected turn as Pakistan shot Sri Lanka out in the second innings for 138. This meant that Pakistan needed just 136 runs to win the Test.

However, by the last day, the wicket was producing sharp turn and grip and Sri Lanka’s champion spinner, Rangana Herath (6-43), along with Dilruwan Perera (3-46), rattled the Pakistani batting. None of the batsmen could stay for long and eventually, Pakistan was bundled out for 114 to give Sri Lanka a sensational 21-run victory.

England wins by 22 runs

Match – Bangladesh v England at Chittagong, 2016:

Bangladesh and heart-stopping contests go hand in hand, it seems. The first Test between Bangladesh and England at Chittagong was a low-scoring affair where the match had swung both ways in the first four days and the visitors eventually set a target of 286 runs for the home side.

Bangladesh began their chase solidly and, at 102-2, looked well on course. However, the track at Chittagong was uneven and was assisting the spinners and the seamers alike. The English spinners, Gareth Batty (3-65) and Moeen Ali (2-60), along with the seamers, put up a spirited display and kept denting the opposition regularly. And while Sabbir Rahman (64*) played a terrific lone hand, the others were guilty of playing too many rash shots and could not stay long enough.

The match did go close, but England eventually managed to eke out an exciting 22-run victory, leaving Bangladesh heart-broken.

 

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