Highest Run Chase in Test Cricket 2nd Innings

In Test cricket, setting up or chasing down a huge total is always an incredible achievement. While the fourth innings run chases get more limelight, there have been some mammoth targets successfully overhauled by teams in the second innings too.

In this article, we look back at the highest run chases achieved by teams batting in the second innings of Test matches over the years.

The Challenge of Second Innings Batting

Before jumping into the specific instances, let’s understand why batting in the second innings can be tricky:

  • The pitch starts deteriorating by the third day, making strokeplay difficult.
  • Fast bowlers get reverse swing while spinners find turn and bounce.
  • The opposition senses a chance to run through the batting order.
  • Mental fatigue creeps in after fielding for long periods.
  • Loss of early wickets can expose the middle and lower order when setting targets.

This means teams need solid plans and temperament from batsmen to overhaul big totals in the second innings when conditions are bowler-friendly. Let’s revisit some memorable occasions when it was done.

Australia’s 721/6 vs Pakistan at Sydney, 2014

The highest ever run chase achieved by a team in the second innings came during Australia’s demolition of Pakistan at the SCG in 2014.

After bundling out Pakistan for 438 in the first innings, Australia responded with a mammoth 561/4 declared, powered by David Warner’s century. Pakistan then scored 261 in their second innings, leaving Australia with a world record target of 721 runs.

Openers Warner and Chris Rogers put on a record partnership of 548 runs on Day 4, scoring hundreds to deflate Pakistan. Michael Clarke declared immediately after overhauling Pakistan’s total with 6 wickets in hand to make a statement. Chasing over 700 runs in the second innings was a sensational effort.

West Indies’ 418/5 vs Australia, 2003

West Indies’ amazing chase of 418 versus Australia at Antigua in 2003 came in the second innings, although it seemed almost impossible.

After Australia declared at 240/2, giving the Windies a day to make 418, the hosts incredibly got home with 3 wickets in hand thanks to Lara’s unbeaten 200. Chanderpaul also struck 104* as the Caribbean side pulled off the highest successful run chase in Test history in dramatic style.

India’s 387/4 vs England at The Oval, 1979

Another monumental second-innings chase came during India’s historic Test win against England at The Oval in 1979.

Set a target of 438 after England declared, India ended day four at 76/3 requiring over 350 runs on the final day with 7 wickets in hand. On a wearing pitch, this seemed improbable.

But Viswanath and Yashpal Sharma played sensational knocks on day 5 to resurrect India. Amarnath (46) and Gavaskar (43) then took India home in an unforgettable run chase, reaching the target with 6 wickets left.

South Africa’s 340/3 vs Australia, 1950

In the early days of Test cricket, chases over 300 were rare, let alone in the second innings. But South Africa incredibly managed this against Australia at the Wanderers in 1950.

After taking a slender 2-run lead in the first innings, South Africa restricted Australia to just 239 in their second effort. This left the Proteas needing 340 runs to win the Test.

Opener Jackie McGlew batted nearly two days for 111, allowing the rest of the batting to play freely. Wicket-keeper batsman John Waite top scored with 195* as South Africa won by 7 wickets, creating history.

Australia’s 332/4 vs England, 1965

Australia’s highest successful second innings run chase came during the 1964-65 Ashes series at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Set 370 runs to win after England declared late on day four, the odds were stacked against Australia. But openers Bill Lawry and Bob Simpson had other ideas.

Their record-breaking opening stand of 288 runs shut England out of the contest. Lawry scored a magnificent 178 while Simpson made 104 in a dominant batting display as Australia won by 6 wickets. Over 330 runs chased down in the second innings Down Under was a fabulous effort.

West Indies Chase 306 vs Pakistan at Kensington Oval, 1977

The Pakistan team of the 1970s was notoriously difficult to beat at home. Which made West Indies’ famous second innings chase at the Kensington Oval even more special.

Pakistan gained a crucial 77-run first innings lead and set West Indies 306 runs to win the match. However, Gordon Greenidge smashed a counter-attacking 200 to stun Pakistan.

Viv Richards blazed away to a quickfire 96 as West Indies romped home by 8 wickets. Chasing over 300 in the second innings against Imran Khan, Sarfraz Nawaz and co. underlined the West Indies dominance during their golden era.

England’s 315/4 vs Australia at Melbourne, 1928

On the bowling paradise at the MCG nearly a century ago, England managed a record run chase batting second to beat Australia in the 1928 Ashes Test.

After conceding a 181-run lead in the first innings, England restricted Australia to just 164 in the second. This left the visitors needing 315 runs to win, a daunting target back then.

But openers Jack Hobbs (49) and Herbert Sutcliffe (135) put up a great partnership. Wally Hammond also struck a quickfire 101* as England sensationally won by 6 wickets in a historic successful run chase on Australian soil.

South Africa Hunt Down 340/3 vs Australia, 1902

We end with one of the earliest instances of a 300+ second innings chase in Test history – South Africa beating Australia at the Old Wanderers ground in Johannesburg in the 1902 series.

Australia posted 314 in their second innings, setting South Africa a stiff target of 340 in the fourth innings on a wearing wicket. At 95/3, the chase seemed in jeopardy before Jimmy Sinclair (103) and Billy Smith (105*) turned the tide.

Their huge partnership for the fourth wicket ensured South Africa created history by reaching the target just 3 wickets down. This early Test run chase underlined the tenacity of South African batting.


These unbelievable acts of sustained concentration and skill by batsmen prove why Test cricket is the ultimate challenge. Be it stringing mammoth opening partnerships or resilient middle order batting, we have witnessed some all-time batting feats to successfully chase down huge second innings totals.

When conditions are loaded in favor of bowlers, knocking off 300+ runs over multiple sessions requires immense physical stamina, technique and determination from willow-wielders. Those brilliant chases standout as the crown jewels of Test batting across various eras.

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