Top 10 Highest Run Chase in Test Cricket

In the history of test cricket spanning over 140 years, there have been some remarkable instances of teams chasing down huge targets successfully. Test cricket is often regarded as a batters graveyard where collapses are common when chasing. But these monumental run chases involved heroic batting performances.

In this article, we revisit the top 10 highest run chases ever in test cricket history. Get ready to relive some all-time great test innings that led to unbelievable comebacks resulting in victory after being set towering targets.

The rankings are based on the magnitude of runs scored by teams batting second to win the test match in the fourth innings of tests.

1. West Indies (418/7) beat Australia by 3 wickets

Score: Australia 574/7 d, West Indies 418/7

Venue: Antigua Recreation Ground, St John’s, 2003

No chase comes close to the improbable 418 runs that West Indies successfully managed to score against Australia in 2003, still the highest run chase ever in 141 years of test cricket.

After Australia declared at 574/7, Windies began strongly before slumping to 105/5. But Brian Lara smashed 153 while receiving great support from Ridley Jacobs (107) as West Indies scripted a sensational comeback to reach 418/7 and win by 3 wickets.

This once-in-a-lifetime test run chase underlined the dominance of West Indies batting in that era. Lara’s masterpiece one of the greatest test knocks played to successfully chase down over 400 runs in the fourth innings against top class Aussie bowling.

Also Check: Highest Run Chase in Test by West Indies

2. Australia (404/3) beat England by 7 wickets

Score: England 180 & 477, Australia 284 & 404/3

Venue: Headingley, Leeds, 1948

The second highest successful run chase in Tests came during the 1948 Ashes when Australia incredibly chased down 404 on the final day at Headingley against England.

After conceding a lead of 293 runs in the first innings, Australia lost early wickets. But opener Sid Barnes smashed 141 while captain Don Bradman scored an unbeaten 173 to take the Aussies home by 7 wickets.

Scoring at over 4 runs per over in that era was unthinkable. But Barnes and Bradman’s 301-run stand produced a miraculous victory that cemented Australia’s invincibility under Bradman’s captaincy during that golden era.

Also Check: Highest Run Chase in Test by England

3. West Indies (406/4) beat Australia by 4 wickets

Score: Australia 563/9 d, West Indies 406/4

Venue: Antigua Recreation Stadium, St John’s, 2003

The third highest successful chase also involves the West Indies team batting brilliantly to reach the 400+ target against Australia in 2003.

After allowing Australia to score 563/9, West Indies were powered by double centuries from opener Chris Gayle (204) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (149*).

Ramnaresh Sarwan also scored a vital 105 to set up a record-breaking chase of 406 which no team has managed to surpass till date in test history. Completing such imposing run chases speaks volumes about the attacking prowess of West Indian batting lineups.

4. India (387/4) beat England by 6 wickets

Score: England 400 & 342/7 d, India 338 & 387/4

Venue: Headingley, Leeds, 2021

Indian fans won’t forget their team’s incredible chase of 387 runs with minimum fuss to defeat England during their 2021 tour. Having conceded a sizeable lead of 354 runs while batting first, India began day 5 needing 387 runs to win.

However, stylish opener Rohit Sharma smashed 161 while Cheteshwar Pujara held firm with an unbeaten 66 as India romped home by 6 wickets even before tea!

Rishabh Pant also dazzled with a breathtaking 96 to make chasing a record target on English soil look easy. India’s batting maestros delivered arguably their finest test performance abroad as a team in this memorable run chase.

Also Check: Highest Run Chase in Test by India

5. Australia (332/7) beat England by 3 wickets

Score: England 294 & 123, Australia 116 & 332/7

Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground, 1982

Now for an astonishing Ashes chase where Australia were forced to score 332 runs on the fifth day to win the 1982 Melbourne test against England.

England had reduced Australia to 104/3 at one stage making the chase seem impossible. However, Allan Border scored an unbeaten 115 while Jeff Thomson blazed 72 runs to achieve the 332 run target successfully with 3 wickets remaining.

This historic chase underlined Border’s tenacity in guiding Australia during difficult times. England seemed on course for victory before Border and Thomson’s lower order belligerence pulled off this once-in-a-lifetime heist!

6. South Africa (339/5) beat Australia by 5 wickets

Score: Australia 108 & 339, South Africa 460 & 339/5

Venue: Perth, 2008

Another memorable victory for the team batting second came at Perth in 2008 when South Africa chased down 414 against Australia in the fourth innings. Graeme Smith played a charismatic captain’s knock scoring 108.

AB de Villiers also smashed a brilliant 106 to frustrate the Aussies. Chasing over 400 runs in the final innings is already a tough ask, doing it against the likes of Lee, Johnson, Clark on Australian soil makes this South African effort truly remarkable. Proteas had announced their arrival by pulling off this record chase down under.

7. India (406/4) beat West Indies by 6 wickets

Score: West Indies 503/9 d, India 406/4

Venue: Port of Spain, Trinidad, 1976

One of India’s greatest test wins also makes this elite list – their sensational chase of 403 runs versus West Indies at Trinidad in 1976. The strong Windies side boasted of bowling legends like Roberts, Holding, Garner and a formidable batting unit.

India lost early wickets before Vishwanath (112) and Sunil Gavaskar (102*) led the fightback with a 246-run partnership. A historic victory for India that stands the test of time nearly 50 years on! This was the highest successful run chase ever at the time.

8. Australia (404/3) beat England by 3 wickets

Score: England 180 & 477, Australia 284 & 404/3

Venue: Headingley, Leeds, 1948

We covered this earlier in the 2nd position – the 1948 Headingley test where Don Bradman’s Australia pulled off the highest successful fourth innings chase in history at the time scoring 404/3 to beat England.

Sir Donald Bradman was unbeaten on 173 in that epic run chase which came right after the war when spirits were low. This win went a long way in reviving hopes of an Australian resurgence in test cricket leading to two decades of sheer dominance.

9. West Indies (394/4) beat Australia by 4 wickets

Score: Australia 256 & 311, West Indies 322 & 394/4

Venue: Bridgetown, Barbados, 1999

Australia’s tour to West Indies in 1999 will be remembered for Brian Lara’s 153 runs masterclass that enabled the Windies to chase down a mammoth target of 308 runs in the final innings.

The Aus bowlers had no answer to Lara’s brilliance as he took the Windies home on the last day along with Jimmy Adams. This was Lara’s finest test knock against Australia and one of the best fourth innings centuries.

10. India (392/4 ) beat England by 6 wickets

Score: England 400 & 323/8 d, India 364 & 392/4

Venue: Chennai, 2008

The miracle of Chennai! Chasing a stiff 387 runs to win against England in 2008, India pulled off an unbelievable fourth innings record chase led by Virender Sehwag’s brutal 83 followed by match-winning hundreds from Yuvraj Singh and Sachin Tendulkar.

With India struggling at 45/2 at one stage, the two maestros prevented any collapse through a quality 253-run partnership. Tendulkar was unbeaten on 103 while Yuvraj slammed 85 as India sealed their highest successful test chase ever at that time in style.

Longest Time Spent Chasing in Successful Run Chase

While discussing highest runs chased, let’s also look at which team spent the longest time at the crease while batting second and successfully chasing a target:

  • West Indies took Five full days to chase down a target of 322 against Australia at Adelaide in 1961. They paced their innings to perfection.
  • South Africa also batted for over two and a half days (209.2 overs) to chase down 414 runs versus Australia at Perth in 2008.
  • During India’s epic 403 run chase at Port of Spain 1976, they remained undefeated for 209.1 overs (nearly 2.5 days).

So completing these record chases didn’t happen quickly. The batting team had to show immense patience, resilience and tempered aggression to achieve history over multiple days at the crease.

Lowest Targets Chased in Top 10 Highest Chases

Another interesting aspect is that while most targets chased were mammoth, some winning teams scored 400+ runs chasing even below 300 runs in the fourth innings:

  • West Indies scored 418/7 in 2003 chasing just 311 runs set by Australia.
  • Australia managed 404/3 in 1948 to chase down England’s target of just 282 at Headingley.
  • India also scored 406/4 in 1976 to chase a target of just 403 by West Indies.

So the fourth innings score reaching 400+ doesn’t necessarily mean the target itself was that huge. But just speaks to the dominance of the batting team in those matches.

Number of 400+ Run Chases in Test Cricket

In the entire history of test cricket since 1877, 400+ runs have been chased down successfully by teams just 14 times indicating how rarely this feat has been achieved.

Here’s the distribution by country of scoring 400+ runs batting second:

  • West Indies have done it 5 times in test history, the most by any team. Their dominance in the 70s and 80s made big chases possible.
  • Australia also has achieved the 400+ chase 4 times in test cricket over the decades.
  • India has managed to successfully chase 400+ runs 3 times in test matches.
  • South Africa and Pakistan have done it once each in their cricket histories.
  • Sri Lanka, New Zealand and England haven’t ever crossed 400+ runs in the fourth innings to win a test match.

So you can see its been a rare feat limited to just a handful of instances given how difficult chasing big totals is in test cricket where batting last is most challenging.

Key Innings That Made Highest Run Chases Possible

Now let’s highlight some of the great test innings that made these seemingly impossible 400+ run chases successful:

  • Brian Lara’s monumental 400* helped West Indies set a record chase of 418 runs in 2003 at Antigua.
  • Gordon Greenidge smashed twin centuries (134 and 223) during West Indies 406 run chase in 1976 at Trinidad.
  • Graham Gooch’s epic 154 in the second innings set India a target of just 120 to win at Headingley in 1986.
  • Rahul Dravid batted nearly 15 hours in two innings for 270 runs during India’s 2004 series win in Pakistan.

-VVS Laxman’s 281 against Australia in 2001 is regarded among the greatest test knocks played in the fourth innings.

So without these batting masterpieces, achieving the highest targets successfully would have been impossible. They laid the foundation for history to be created.

Highest Run Chases in Asia

Among the top 10 chases, 5 have occurred in the Asian subcontinent highlighting how Asian teams have also conquered fourth innings chases in tests.

The highest successful chases in Asia are:

  • 406 by India vs West Indies in 1976 at Trinidad
  • 387 by India vs England at Chennai 2008
  • 362/3 by Pakistan vs Sri Lanka at Pallekele 2015
  • 322/3 by India vs England at Chennai 2008
  • 314/4 by Pakistan vs Australia at Karachi in 1994

So over the decades, Asian teams have shown they can also master challenging chases though home conditions are toughest for batting last.

Lead Required Before Declaring for 400+ Chase

What sort of leads make setting up a 400+ run target even feasible? Let’s analyze:

  • Australia led West Indies by 363 runs before Brian Lara’s 418 chase in 2003.
  • England led by 354 runs before India’s successful 387 run chase at Oval in 2021.
  • Australia led Proteas by 303 runs before their chase of 414-8 in 2008 at Perth.
  • West Indies led by exactly 400 runs when India chased them down in 1976.

So you need 350+ run leads before you can even contemplate asking a team to chase 400+ runs in the fourth innings. Anything less is insufficient given batting becomes difficult on day 4 and 5 of a test match.

The team fielding second needs ample runs cushion if they have any hope of defending a total over 400 in the final innings.

Why 400+ Chases Are Rare in Tests

There are several reasons why chasing 400+ successfully is so rare in test cricket:

  • Sudden batting collapses are common as conditions deteriorate.
  • Quality bowling attacks create unrelenting pressure.
  • Maintaining run rate for 2-3 days continuously is challenging.
  • Batting last on wearing, spinning pitches is hugely difficult.
  • Consolidating partnerships without losing wickets regularly is tough.
  • Mental fatigue and concentration lapses seep in.
  • Fielding teams attack relentlessly sensing opportunity.
  • Individual brilliance alone cannot sustain over multiple sessions.
  • Momentum is fully with the team defending an imposing total.

Thus, everything needs to come together perfectly – toss, partnerships, surface, bowling, fatigue and approach for a 400+ chase to culminate. That’s why we’ve seen just over a dozen such instances.

Will We See More 400+ Chases?

Here are some key factors that suggest 400+ chases could become more common in future:

  • Batting mindsets are becoming more aggressive even in tests.
  • Fitness levels of players are improving allowing them to concentrate longer.
  • Bats have become more powerful enabling big hitting.
  • Fielding restrictions in later stages can aid strokeplay.
  • Pitch preparations are becoming more batting-friendly around the world.
  • Fearless captains are willing to take risks and back their team’s strengths.

So we could see more instances of successful 400+ chases as teams adopt a more aggressive approach. But bowling attacks will also continue devising strategies to defend huge totals. Let’s wait and see who comes out on top in this engrossing battle over the next decade!

Conclusion

Chasing down 400+ runs in test cricket’s fourth innings is one of the rarest and most difficult feats in cricket. We have relived some of the greatest comebacks ever as teams like West Indies, Australia, India successfully conquered the monumental total put up by the opposition.

Brian Lara, Gordon Greenidge, Gooch, Dravid, Sehwang and others have delivered unbelievable match-winning knocks to make these history-defying chases possible. Fans will eagerly wait to see if more teams can cross the 400+ barrier in future. But for now, these chase masterpieces provide an adrenaline rush every time we look back at them!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who has the highest 4th innings total in a lost cause?

Australia still holds the record for the highest 4th innings total in a losing cause with 434/4 against South Africa in 2006.

2. Which team has the most 400+ chases in Tests?

West Indies tops with 5 successful 400+ run chases in Test cricket history during their golden era of domination.

3. Who was the first cricketer to cross 400 individually in the 4th innings?

Brian Lara became the first player to smash an individual 400 in the 4th innings during his unbeaten 153 run masterclass chasing 418.

4. Who hit the fastest century in 4th innings chases?

Misbah ul Haq holds the record for the fastest test century in 4th innings achieving it in just 56 balls against Australia in 2014.

5. Which ground has hosted the most chases above 350 runs?

The Antigua Recreation Ground has seen most 350+ chases including the world record 418 run and 400+ chase.

Similar Posts