With their Kusal Perera-inspired victory in Durban, Sri Lanka set a new record for the highest last-wicket stand in a one-wicket win in Tests – as well as becoming only the second team, after England, to pull off the feat away from home.
Here we look back at five modern classics of the genre.
Inzamam-ul-Haq 58* v Australia, Karachi 1994
The previous record-holder, and one of two Inzy heart-stoppers. Having reduced Pakistan to 184 for 7 chasing 314 to win on a turning pitch, Australia were in sight of a rare Test win in the country. However, with Glenn McGrath and Tim May carrying injuries, they needed all the magic that Shane Warne’s wrists could conjure. Inzamam, batting down at No. 8, was the main obstacle in Australia’s path; still only 24, but unflappable in terms of temperament. Rashid Latif helped add 52 but, after Warne had completed his five-for, Pakistan needed 56 to win with only Mushtaq Ahmed to keep Inzamam company. Mushtaq did more than hang around, though, as Australia’s nerve gave way. With three needed, Ian Healy missed a tough stumping chance off Inzamam and byes sealed the result, preserving Pakistan’s unbeaten record in Karachi.
Brian Lara 153* v Australia, Barbados 1999
The target was 308. Lara walked in at 78 for 3. Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie, Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill – good enough a pack on most days, and on most pitches. Lara bedded in fine, but when Carl Hooper became the fifth man out, West Indies were 105 for 5. Cue a 133-run stand with Jimmy Adams, with Adams scoring just 38 of the runs. It was about as good a rearguard offensive as can be, where Lara was just being, well, Lara. Curtly Ambrose batted out 39 balls in well over an hour as Lara took West Indies closer and closer and, with the not-always-dependable Courtney Walsh at the other end, smacked a trademark cover drive for four off Gillespie to finish the job.
Jimmy Adams 48* v Pakistan, Antigua 2000
West Indies were on the wane, but beating them at home still carried plenty of cachet. Pakistan’s task was to defend a target of 216 – and they could smell victory when a Lara-less line-up slipped from 144 for 3 to 197 for 9, with only the captain and last man Walsh standing in their way. Walsh had, of course, been there before but while West Indies buccaneered to victory on the back of Lara’s 153 a year earlier, Adams did it the hard way, facing 212 balls and battling for five-and-a-half hours. With 16 needed, umpire Dough Cowie missed a Walsh inside edge to bat-pad; Pakistan thought Adams had edged behind off Wasim Akram, too, and there was a squandered run-out chance. Finally, after pilfering 19 runs in 72 minutes together, Adams and Walsh edged over the line.
Inzamam-ul-Haq 138* v Bangladesh, Multan 2003
Inzamam was the man again, as Pakistan denied Bangladesh what would have been a famous first win in Tests. Having been bowled out cheaply by cricket’s youngest Test nation, as Khaled Mahmud and Mohammad Rafique shared nine wickets, Pakistan’s batsmen had some atoning to do in the second innings – but they quickly slipped to 132 for 6, little more than halfway to their target of 261. Saqlain Mushtaq fell early on the fourth morning, with 97 required, but then things began to get fraught – a dropped catch, a missed run-out and the opportunity to Mankad No. 10 Umar Gul turned down by Rafique. Inzamam remained cool throughout, scoring two-thirds of the team’s runs during his time at the crease, and celebrating with rare abandon.
VVS Laxman 73* v Australia, Mohali 2010
It wasn’t the greatest Australian pace attack – Mitchell Johnson, yes, but Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger weren’t quite Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie. The target was a moderate 216. But at 124 for 8, it looked all over. Laxman was suffering from a sore back and needed a runner – he had come out at No. 7. He looked good but, arguably, the real innings of substance came from No. 10 Ishant Sharma, who faced 92 balls in scoring 31 as the two put on 81. Still, when Ishant was dismissed, 11 runs needed to be scored, and at the end of some manic running, a rare case of Laxman losing his cool (with last man Pragyan Ojha), and some general chaos, the winning runs were scored – a nail-biter all right.