There are many facets of cricket, but chasing remains the toughest nut to crack for the majority of cricketers due to scoreboard pressure and the difficulty involved in pacing the innings. On the other hand, a top knock in a tough chase could be a career-altering one and make that player a hero in his country.
Compared to white-ball cricket, chasing in red-ball cricket has its own set of challenges as the last two days are the toughest for batting in Test Cricket. Here we look at five top knocks by Indian cricketers while chasing in Test Cricket,
5. Sachin Tendulkar 103* vs England, Chennai, 2008
After the Mumbai bomb blast, the spirit of the entire nation was down and they badly needed some distraction. The Chennai Test began after a lot of scrutiny over the security and England set India a target of 387 to win the Test. Gambhir as Sehwag provided a solid opening foundation for the hosts and Tendulkar’s magnificent hundred sealed the victory.
All of his nine boundaries came off the spinners Panesar and Swann and the majority of them were wonderfully executed paddle sweeps. Man of the Match Sehwag remarked after the game that this is Sachin’s best innings, and it is hard to disagree with him.
4. Rishabh Pant 89* vs Australia, Brisbane, 2021
Every single factor was against the Indian team going into this Test match and yet they somehow found a way to win against all odds, thanks to Rishabh Pant. When Pant came to bat in the afternoon session, India were on track to a draw while a victory was far away. But Pant took calculated risks and ensured that the required run rate steadily decreased.
He scored a boundary per over and picked the gaps with precision throughout the knock. Finally, India won the game with three wickets in hand and the Aussies were beaten at the Gabba after 31 years.
3. Sachin Tendulkar’s 136 vs Pakistan, Chennai, 1999
This knock is special because of the quality of Pakistan’s bowling attack and the daunting task of chasing on a wicket that was turning square. Tendulkar walked in with India reeling at 6-2 and steadied the ship. After settling at the crease, he launched a scintillating counter-attack even as his partners kept getting dismissed at the other end.
Whenever the spinners erred in length, he went back in the crease to cut and pull in trademark fashion. India lost the game by 12 runs but Tendulkar’s knock still remains fresh in the memory of everyone witnessed it live.
2. Virat Kohli’s 141 vs Australia, Adelaide, 2014
India needed 364 runs to win on the fifth day and in his first Test as captain, Virat Kohli played a magnificent innings to almost achieve the impossible. India lost Dhawan and Pujara early but Kohli and Vijay combined for a 185 run partnership at the crease.
Vijay played the role of the anchor while Kohli attacked from another end. The hallmark of this innings was the way he attacked Nathan Lyon ruthlessly and even played the sweep shot regularly, a rarity in his career. India could not get near the target but Kohli’s attitude left a mark on the opponents as well as fans.
1. Sunil Gavaskar’s 221 vs England, The Oval, 1979
This splendid knock remains the third-highest fourth innings score in the history of Test cricket. India were chasing an improbable target of 438 and finally settled for a draw. Gavaskar’s defence was impossible to break as usual but during the afternoon session on day 5, he started showing his more attacking side.
What looked beyond the reach suddenly looked gettable and the England team slowed down the overrate considerably in fear of a defeat. India fell nine runs short of the target, but this performance showed the world India’s talent after a forgettable 1979 World Cup.