Top 5 Great Innings by a Captain batting in the 3rd or 4th Innings
Today we are looking at Top 5 Great Innings by a Captain batting in the 3rd or 4th Innings. Batting at the 3rd or 4th innings of a test match requires lots of guts and survival instinct. Especially in situations where the team is asked to follow on or chase a stiff target great patience needs to be summoned by the batsmen. There have been many instances in test history where the captains of the respective teams led from the front. Brendon McCullum’s innings today at Wellington rewinds us back to the innings of similar stature by captains in the past.
- Michael Atherton (185 vs. South Africa) – It was 1995/1996 season and England were playing a red hot South African side captained by a shrewd Hansie Cronje. England was set a daunting total of 479 runs in the fourth innings and they were staring towards a huge defeat as the scoreboard read 145/4. Atherton the skipper was still present fighting his way out and he was joined by an equally stubborn Jack Russell. Similar to the way the skipper McCullum and the keeper Watling fought it out today, another skipper and wicket keeper kept the South Africans at bay for a long period. Mind you, Atherton had to face a rampaging Allan Donald and this innings is even still remembered for his gustiness to withstand raw pace by taking blows all over his body and guiding his team to safety.
- Brian Lara (153 vs. Australia) – Those were the days when the West Indies team used to depend on a single champion player named Brian Charles Lara. The opposition was Australia who were rolling out teams on a regular basis. Australia had a lead of 161 when they began their second innings and an inspired bowling performance from Walsh skittled them out for 146. West Indies were left to chasse 308 runs against an attack which read Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Shane Warne and Macgill. Enter Brian Lara who had single handedly defied the Australians all through the series. He was at his attacking best slashing the bowlers all over the park and watching wickets tumble at the other end. Only 6 runs were needed when Ambrose fell and Walsh joined Lara. He played out an entire over and every ball was met with a triumphant roar from the stands. And then Lara hit the winning runs next over. This is one of the classics of test match history and one of the all-time greatest cricket series.
- Graeme Smith (183 vs. England) – Smith has a great record batting in the third and fourth innings of a test match. He showed it once again against a good England attack scoring 183 odd runs and along with Hashim Amla took his team to a commanding position, a lead of 466 runs. Even though England managed to save this match this remains one of the greatest innings played by a captain against a quality bowling attack.
- Salim Malik (237 vs. Australia) – This has to be one of the greatest innings played by an Asian batsmen. The scene was enacted at Rawalpindi. Australia had amassed 521 runs and Pakistan shot out for 260 runs in their first innings. They were promptly asked to follow on. Salim Malik showed why he is a highly rated player and played an innings of such sublime quality. His knock was studded with 34 boundaries against a bowling attack that included McGrath, Fleming, and Shane Warne. With support from Aamer Malik and Rashid Latif Australians were kept at bay and Pakistan had managed to draw that match and gave them the confidence to save the next match to win the series and kept their record intact at home conditions.
- Martin Crowe (299 vs. Sri Lanka) – Another escape act by a New Zealand captain at wellington. Martin Crowe did to Sri Lanka what McCullum did to India today. In a similar situation with a lead of 323 by Sri Lanka after a sublime Aravinda De Silva innings, Martin Crowe and Andrew jones survived the Sri Lankan bowling attack. Even though it was not a strong bowling attack when the team is facing a deficit of more than 300 runs and batting in the 4th innings of a test match it requires great skill to bat it out. Crowe managed to bat all along and missed a well-earned triple hundred by 1 run after being bowled by a relatively unknown bowler called Arjuna Ranatunga.
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