Highest Run Chase in Test by West Indies

The West Indies cricket team in its golden era became synonymous with aggressive batting and record-breaking run chases. During the 1960s and 1970s, West Indies consistently conquered towering fourth innings totals set by the opposition. They played fearless and attacking cricket to successfully chase down targets deemed impossible for any other team.

In this article, we revisit some of the highest run chases in test cricket history orchestrated by the mighty West Indians. Get ready to relive the batting heroics that made the Calypso Kings the undisputed champions of test run chases for nearly two decades.

1. West Indies (418/7) vs Australia at St. John’s in 2003

The highest run chase ever in test cricket history belongs to West Indies when they stunned Australia by scoring 418/7 in the fourth innings at St. John’s in 2003.

Chasing a target of 311 set by Australia, the Windies were powered by a sublime Brian Lara special (153*) and vital support from Ridley Jacobs (107). No adjectives can do justice to Lara’s brilliance as West Indies successfully eclipsed the world record.

This unbelievable run chase encapsulated the spirit of dominance and attacking cricket that West Indies embraced. To mollify Glenn McGrath, Warne, Gillespie in their own backyard attesting why Windies were the greatest chase masters.

2. West Indies (406/4) vs Australia at St. John’s in 2003

In the very same year and ground as the 418 chase, West Indies incredibly scored 406/4 batting second to once again upstage Australia in 2003.

Responding to Australia’s 554/4, Windies rode on a blistering Chris Gayle double ton (204) and solid century from Chanderpaul (149*). Two 400+ chases in a year signaled the self-belief of that West Indies team.

Against McGrath, Gillespie, Warne – scoring at a staggering 5 runs per over proved West Indies could eclipse any total through sheer dominance. This was Gayle’s coming of age innings cementing his spot as a destructive modern legend.

3. West Indies (392/8) vs Australia at Kingston in 1977

Long before the 2003 heroics, West Indies had served notice of being the greatest chasers by scoring 392/8 versus Australia at Kingston in 1977.

In response to Australia’s 494/5 powered by Greg Chappell’s polished 247, the Windies lost quick wickets before Viv Richards played one of his finest test knocks of 153.

Gordon Greenidge also struck 134 as West Indies almost pulled off the highest ever chase then before finishing at 392/8. Viv’s counterattack epitomized the Windies ruthless approach.

4. West Indies (359/3) vs Pakistan at Port of Spain in 1977

Later in the same year, West Indies carved another great chase scoring 359/3 at Port of Spain to defeat Pakistan in 1977.

With Pakistan setting them just 286 thanks to Wasim Raja’s epic 176, the Windies cantered home as Greenidge smashed another big hundred (134).

Desmond Haynes dazzled as well with 116* off just 93 balls as the Windies wrapped up an emphatic win in just 4 sessions against Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz. Their attacking intent shone through.

5. West Indies (344/1) vs England in St. John’s at 2009

The recent 400+ world record chase isn’t West Indies’ only fabulous run chase at St. John’s. They demolished England here in 2009 by chasing a historic target successfully with just 1 wicket down.

After allowing England to score 600/6, the Windies responded strongly led by Chris Gayle’s masterly 162 and varied support from Smith, Sarwan and Nash. Chasing 345 comfortably for one wicket was a surreal achievement.

Gayle feasting on Anderson and company highlighted the point of West Indies being the greatest fourth innings chasers when in rhythm. St.John’s was really their fortress.

6. West Indies (342/8) vs Australia at Sydney in 1996

An away chase versus Australia at such ease reinforced West Indies pedigree. At Sydney in 1996, Windies successfully chased 342/8 thanks to a captain’s knock from Courtney Walsh (61*).

After Mark Taylor’s debut double hundred took Australia to a huge 531/5, the Windies refused to crumble led by Walsh’s resilence. Saving a test at Sydney highlighted their never say die spirit.

7. West Indies (336/7) vs Pakistan at Kensington Oval in 1957

Long before the exploits of Viv, Greenidge and Lara came the original pioneers like Sir Garfield Sobers. As a 20-year old in 1957, Sobers hit 108 while Collie Smith compiled 147 to help West Indies chase 336/7 and defeat Pakistan at Bridgetown.

Pakistan had scored 469 thanks to Imtiaz Ahmed’s 209. But Sobers’ emergence in this game marked the passing down of the baton as Windies entered a golden era under his leadership. A sign of things to come!

8. West Indies (322/8) vs New Zealand at Georgetown in 1972

New Zealand set 322 at Georgetown in 1972 but their attack had no answers to a sublime Lance Gibbs hundred that enabled a Windies victory.

After conceding 387 with Glenn Turner smashing 259, West Indies slipped to 207/7 before Gibbs led a recovery with exceptional support from doughty David Holford as 322/8 was achieved.

Gibbs was primarily a bowler, but his maiden test ton (105) proved West Indies refused to ever throw in the towel. Marks of a champion team!

9. West Indies (308/7) vs Australia at Melbourne in 1988

Windies conquering Australia in their backyard was astonishing. At Melbourne in 1988, the Windies chased 308/7 snarling and scratching all the way. Desmond Haynes led the fightback with a stoic 133.

Australia had scored 320 built around Steve Waugh’s 195 in conditions favoring them. But the Windies dug deep with Jeff Dujon also chipping in to finish off a grueling chase. Beating Australia in such a manner fired up the Windies.

10. West Indies (298/7) vs Pakistan at Lahore in 1975

We round off the list with West Indies feisty chase at hostile territory – 298/7 in the fourth innings to defeat Pakistan at Lahore in 1975 highlighting their resilience.

After Pakistan declared at 503/8, the Windies slipped from 113/1 to 166/5 before Wasim Raja took them home with 30 runs still to get. Viv Richards supported well with a gritty fifty as West Indies escaped by the skin of their teeth.

The challenges of Asia couldn’t deter the Windies who would fight till the last breath- qualities of a champion team.

So in summary, West Indies in its pomp set the benchmark for fourth innings chases in test cricket. Most times they not only chased totals but did so with swag and utter disdain for the bowlers. Their legacy as the greatest chasers ever shall endure forever!

Batting Legends Who Made These Chases Possible

Now let’s highlight the batting stalwarts whose heroic performances made such improbable chases successful against top class bowling:

  • Brian Lara – 153* at St John’s 2003 stands out along with my other masterful fourth innings centuries.
  • Gordon Greenidge – His twin centuries at Lord’s 1984 and batting exploits in the 1970s set the platform for Windies chases.
  • Sir Vivian Richards – The strongest demonstrator of the Windies fearless batting approach with several fourth innings classics.
  • Desmond Haynes – His technique and temperament made him the ideal opener who could see off tough spells and build a base.
  • Sir Garfield Sobers – As a genuine all-rounder, he provided depth and versatility to the batting order during his era in the 1950s and 60s.
  • Clive Lloyd – The first modern destroyer from West Indies who instilled the never say die attitude.

So these batting generals marshaled their troops to conquer run chases that seemed improbable on paper against high class bowling units.

Importance of Opening Stands For Windies

Crucial to West Indies being able to chase hefty targets was the ability of their opening pair to provide solid starts. Their effectiveness in blunting the new ball and wearing down attacks laid the foundation for victories.

Some highly prolific Caribbean opening pairs:

  • Gordon Greenidge – Desmond Haynes
  • Roy Fredericks – Clayton Lambert
  • Conrad Hunte – Rohan Kanhai
  • Geoff Greenidge – Steve Camacho

So whether it was Greenidge-Haynes or the pairs before them, West Indian openers stood tall upfront to set the stage for mammoth chases. Seeing off the new ball threat was pivotal.

Strengths That Made West Indies Great Chasers

What made the West Indians of that era such phenomenal and successful run chasers? Let’s analyze the key traits:

  • Self-Belief – Their confidence in chasing any target infused fear in the opposition. Total commitment to victory.
  • Competitiveness – Refused to ever admit defeat whatever the match situation might be. Sheer passion for a challenge.
  • Attacking Instinct – Unwavering intent to score runs rapidly from ball one rather than get bogged down.
  • Adaptability – Could dynamically modify the run chase approach as per match situation. Master game readers.
  • Athleticism – Brilliant running between wickets allowing them to keep the scoreboard ticking.
  • Depth In Batting – Presence of bowling all-rounders like Sobers, Holder, Gibbs boosted depth and flexibility.
  • Six Hitting Prowess – Power hitters like Lloyd, Richards, Kanhai could clear the ropes at will in all conditions. Intimidated the bowlers.

The West Indians thus had the perfect balance of flair, skill and temperament that made them unbeatable hunters in the fourth innings no matter the target size.

Impact of Captaincy on Successful Chases

Another important factor on West Indies stellar ability to chase was the inspirational leadership and tactical acumen that captains offered:

  • Frank Worrell – First established an attitude of never surrendering irrespective of match situation.
  • Sir Garfield Sobers – His positive and innovative leadership built on those foundations in the 1960s.
  • Rohan Kanhai – Continued the fearlessness and self-belief as captain in the early 1970s.
  • Clive Lloyd – Transformed the attitude into an unstoppable world beating juggernaut built on aggression.
  • Viv Richards – Cemented the dominance and aura permanently as captain in the 1980s with his commanding presence.

So the transition of leadership stewarding the evolution from a powerful team to an invincible global force was instrumental.

Home Grounds That Aided Run Chases

West Indies capitalized on certain grounds known for being batting paradises where big chases could be executed successfully:

  • Sabina Park Kingston offered true bounce aiding stroke play.
  • Kensington Oval Barbados had a lightning outfield that enabled piercing shots and good run rate.
  • Bourda Ground Guyana likewise had a fast outfield coupled with short boundaries.
  • Queens Park Oval Trinidad nurtured several stars with its hard surface and even bounce.
  • Stadium Antigua had a flat surface where the ball came nicely onto the bat allowing strokeplay.

Home conditions played their part in West Indies emerging as impregnable run chasers during their eras of dominance.

Transition From Cautious to Cavalier Approach

Looking back, West Indies evolution into world beaters also aligned with the change from cautious run chases to a cavalier attacking mindset.

  • 1950s Windies played percentage and risk-free cricket minimizing errors.
  • 1960s saw blending controlled accumulation of runs with occasional aggression by Sobers and Kanhai.
  • 1970s brought an increasingly attacking mindset from Lloyd, Julien, Fredericks etc signaling the shift.
  • By 1980s under Richards they became utterly dominant and demolishing in chasing any target through pure intimidation.

So the methodical build-up ultimately culminated in the Windies becoming the most entertaining and feared run chasers in test history.

Impact of Losing Top Players

West Indies invincibility in chases throughout the 1970s and 80s meant they could conquer any target set by the opposition. But once top players started retiring in the 1990s, the chasing prowess gradually declined.

Some all-time greats Windies lost:

  • Viv Richards’ last test was in 1991 leaving a huge void.
  • Malcolm Marshall’s exit in 1991 weakened their bowling attack’s penetration.
  • Gus Logie’s retirement in 1994 took away solidity in the middle order.
  • Desmond Haynes last played in 1994 depriving them of a prolific opening partnership.
  • Courtney Walsh’s exit in 2001 marked the end of an era.

This drain of talent meant West Indies slowly lost the ability and confidence to chase down big targets successfully in test matches. Rebuilding became difficult.

Have West Indies Regained Chasing Mojo?

Since the 2000s, West Indies gradual resurgence has seen the return of superstars like Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo etc and influx of new talent like Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph.

Signs that their chasing nous may be returning:

  • Fourth innings successes like the miracle 418 chase in 2003.
  • Series victories against top teams like England and Bangladesh in recent years.
  • Strong starts being provided by Brathwaite, Campbell opening partnership.
  • Hope and Blackwood bringing solidity to the middle order.
  • Holder leading from the front with both bat and ball.

So the ingredients are falling in place for West Indies to eventually reclaim their lost glory in test run chases in the coming years. Exciting times ahead!


In summary, West Indies in its golden era set benchmarks for fourth innings chases that are unparalleled in test history. Their dominance bred a mindset of being able to successfully conquer any target – a hallmark of a champion team.

With a new generation of stars and playing style evolving, West Indies could eventually scale the run chasing heights again. For now, fans reminisce about the unmatched Windies chasing legends who created a legacy which teams still aspire to match someday.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which West Indian has the most fourth innings centuries?

Gordon Greenidge scored 5 fourth innings test hundreds for West Indies – the joint highest along with Sir Garfield Sobers.

Who was the Windies best fourth innings chaser statistically?

In terms of average, Shivnarine Chanderpaul averaged over 60 in fourth innings chases for West Indies proving most successful.

What’s the highest 4th innings total West Indies failed to chase?

West Indies failed to scale Australia’s 419 runs set at Antigua in 2003 falling short by just 3 runs.

Which opposition team conceded the most runs to Windies in lost chases?

Australia conceded 400+ runs twice to West Indies successful chases in 2003 making them the most hapless opponents.

Who was the best fourth innings West Indian bowler?

Malcolm Marshall’s brilliance brought Windies many victories taking 403 wickets including some of his best spells in the fourth innings.

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