Highest Successful Run Chases in Test Cricket 4th innings

In Test cricket, successfully chasing down a formidable target in the fourth innings is considered the ultimate challenge. It tests the skills, patience and temperament of the batting side unlike any other situation in the game. Over the years, there have been some truly epic run chases carried out in the fourth innings of Test matches.

In this in-depth article, we look back at the highest targets successfully achieved by teams batting in the fourth innings of a Test match.

The Difficulty of Fourth Innings Run Chases

Let us first understand why the fourth innings of a Test is considered the most difficult phase to bat. Some key factors that make 4th innings run chases challenging are:

  • The pitch deteriorates over the course of the match, making batting increasingly difficult. Spin, reverse swing and uneven bounce come into play.
  • The outfield becomes slower, enabling fielders to cut off more shots.
  • The pressure of chasing a target on the final day is immense, with no second chances.
  • Tiredness creeps in after 3 exhausting days, testing the concentration levels of batsmen.
  • The bowling side gets pumped up sensing a chance to win the match by defending their total.

Given these dynamics, when a team successfully chases down a huge fourth innings target, it is a remarkable achievement requiring immense skill and determination. With that context, let us look at the highest 4th innings chases.

West Indies’ 418/7 vs Australia, 2003

The highest successful run chase in Test history came in the famous 434 game between Australia and West Indies at Antigua in 2003. It was a run fest with both sides smashing records in an unforgettable Test match.

Australia batted first and declared at 484/6 thanks to Matthew Hayden’s epic 380. In response, West Indies scored 751/5 with Brian Lara plundering 400 not out. Following on, Australia declared their second innings at 229/5, setting West Indies an imposing target of 418 runs.

But the Caribbean giants were up for the task. Openers Chris Gayle and Devon Smith got them off to a solid start. Ramnaresh Sarwan then anchored the chase with an unbeaten 105 while Shivnarine Chanderpaul struck 104.

A quickfire 47 off 29 balls from Omari Banks sealed the deal as West Indies created history by chasing down 418. Their 418/7 remains the highest successful fourth innings chase in Tests.

India’s 406/4 vs West Indies, 1976

Before the 434 game, the previous highest fourth innings Test chase belonged to India when they hunted down 406 runs against West Indies at Port of Spain in 1976.

Led by a young Gundappa Vishwanath, India scripted a famous victory after being made to follow on. Centuries from Vishwanath (112) and Sunil Gavaskar (102*) set the platform for the record chase.

Then, Mohinder Amarnath (85) and Anshuman Gaekwad (80) took India over the line in a historic match remembered as ‘The Miracle at Port of Spain’. India’s 406/4 broke the previous record of 404/3 by Australia against England in 1948.

Australia’s Miraculous 403/3 vs England, 1948

Speaking of Australia’s 404/3 versus England in 1948, this incredible chase laid down the marker for highest successful fourth innings chases in Test cricket.

Set a mammoth target of 403 runs to win after England declared at 365/8, Australia pulled off a stunning comeback victory thanks to their invincible opening pair.

Sid Barnes (141) and Arthur Morris (182) put on 301 runs for the first wicket on the final day, dominating England’s bowling attack. Don Bradman also returned after injury to remain unbeaten on 30* and hit the winning runs.

This victory highlighted Australia’s never-say-die attitude and ability to accomplish the near-impossible. Their 403/3 record stood unbeaten for 28 years until India’s 406 in 1976.

England Scale New Heights with 332/4 vs Australia, 2010

England’s highest ever successful fourth innings chase came against arch rivals Australia in the 2010-11 Ashes series Down Under.

In an epic Brisbane Test, England incredibly chased down 332 in their second innings after conceding a 221-run lead earlier.

Openers Andrew Strauss (110) and Alastair Cook (235) powered their way to a 188-run stand to dent Australia’s confidence. Jonathan Trott then anchored the chase with a resilient 135* as England won by nine wickets.

Scoring over 300 runs in a fourth innings chase, especially in Australia, was a special achievement – a sign of England’s supreme batting firepower and new-found Ashes domination.

South Africa’s Chase Down 414/4 vs Australia, 2008

Facing a massive 414 runs to win in the fourth innings against a team like Australia is most batters’ nightmare. But South Africa incredibly achieved this target in 2008 at the WACA, Perth to seal a famous victory.

After twin tons from Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis in the first innings, South Africa restricted Australia’s lead to 398 on a hard batting pitch. Openers Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers then batted superbly to set up the chase.

JP Duminy (50*) provided late order impetus on debut as South Africa gunned down the target just four wickets down. Their 414/4 was the highest fourth innings score by a visiting team in Australia.

West Indies Scale 418/5 vs Australia, 1951

Australia got a taste of their own medicine against the mighty West Indies team of the 1950s. In the third Test at St. John’s, Antigua in 1955, West Indies successfully chased down a world record target of 418 in the fourth innings.

Australia declared their second innings at 339/7, leaving the hosts ample time to scale the massive target. Opener Conrad Hunte struck a stroke-filled 260, putting on a record partnership of 446 runs with Everton Weekes (206).

West Indies sensationally overhauled the target with over 20 overs to spare to set a new record for the highest fourth innings chase, bettering Australia’s 1948 effort. The Windies batting firepower was in full flow here.

Pakistan’s Knock Down 377/6 vs Sri Lanka, 2015

The scene was set for Pakistan’s batting to come good when they faced a target of 377 against Sri Lanka at Pallekele in 2015. The talented but unpredictable side finally clicked together in a record fourth innings chase.

Shan Masood scored a patient 125 to lay the foundation. Experienced Younis Khan anchored the innings with a stellar 171* as he found an able ally in captain Misbah-ul-Haq who blazed away to 59*.

A fifth-wicket stand of 147 runs between the seasoned veterans shut out Sri Lanka as Pakistan achieved the target in the last over, losing just four wickets. This surpassed their previous best of 369 against South Africa in 1998.

West Indies Chase Down 373/9 vs Australia, 1977

In the early days of Test cricket, a 300-plus fourth innings chase was unthinkable. Making 373 runs to win a Test was near impossible. But the West Indies did exactly that against Australia at the MCG in 1977.

Set a target of 382 after Australia declared at 267/2, the Windies lost openers Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes cheaply. However, Viv Richards played one of his finest knocks, striking 181 of just 191 balls.

Lower order batsmen Deryck Murray (59) and Andy Roberts (40) chipped in with cameos as West Indies inched closer before Michael Holding hit the winning runs off 373/9. It was a historic comeback for the Windies as the cricket world took notice of their fearless batting approach.

England’s Legendary 362/9 vs Australia, 1953

We end this recap with what is considered the greatest Test chase of all time – England hunting down 344 on a crumbling Leeds pitch against arch rivals Australia in the 1953 Ashes.

Chasing just over a run a minute on the final day seemed impossible. But opener Len Hutton stayed put for 13 hours to score an unbeaten 145, conquering Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller’s furious spells.

The heroics of Willie Watson (109), Trevor Bailey (64) and Doug Insole (30) drove England closer before the hosts clinched a series-clinching 1-wicket victory. England’s 362/9 defined resilience and belief under immense pressure, with all odds stacked against them.

This ‘Miracle of Leeds’ chase proved fourth innings targets over 300 could be scaled with proper application and determination. It set the benchmark for epic rearguard batting feats in Tests.

Conclusion

Successfully chasing down over 300 runs in the fourth innings of a Test match requires supreme concentration, technique and nerve from batsmen. Teams need proper strategic planning and rock solid partnerships to accomplish such targets.

As we saw, fourth innings chases over 400 runs have only been achieved on batting paradises. And mere survival against hostile bowling attacks on crumbling Day 5 pitches to knock off 300+ can be heroic.

The Windies batsmen of the 1970s-80s set the gold standard when it came to aggression and belief in record chases. Modern players can look to their feats for inspiration when faced with the ultimate challenge of batting in a fourth Test innings run chase.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which team holds the record for the highest successful run chase in Test cricket history?

The record for the highest successful run chase in Tests belongs to West Indies, when they incredibly chased down 418 against Australia in Antigua in 2003.

Who was the captain of the Indian team that chased over 400 runs against West Indies in 1976?

The Indian team that successfully chased 406 runs against West Indies in Port of Spain in 1976 was led by veteran captain Bishan Singh Bedi.

Which Australian opener scored a mammoth 380 in the first innings of the 434 game in 2003?

It was Matthew Hayden who set the record for the highest individual score by an Australian in Tests with his phenomenal 380 against West Indies in Antigua, 2003.

Who was England’s anchor batsman when they chased down 332 runs at Brisbane during the 2010-11 Ashes?

The role of anchor batsman who held England’s record chase together was played to perfection by Jonathan Trott, scoring an unbeaten match-winning 135.

Which South African batsman scored twin centuries when they chased down 414 runs at the WACA in 2008?

It was Hashim Amla who scored 104 in the first innings and following it up with 123 in the second innings against Australia at Perth, 2008.

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