On this day in 2019, Ben Stokes single-handedly pulled off a historic run-chase in Headingley against Australia. This was one of the most thrilling Test matches ever played and Stokes' heroic innings went down as one of the greatest in the history of the game.
On the occasion of the second anniversary of the famous 'Headingley Heist', The Business Standard (TBS) has picked the five most outstanding innings in Tests while chasing, taking into account the situation of the matches, the impact of the players and quality of the bowling line-ups.
5) Kyle Mayers: 210* vs Bangladesh, Mirpur, Chattogram
Three years ago, Kyle Rico Mayers survived a deadly hurricane that ravaged Dominica. Had the first-choice West Indies players not pulled out, Mayers wouldn't have made his debut against Bangladesh. In February this year, Mayers did what one cannot even imagine doing on debut. Chasing a mammoth 395 on day five Chattogram pitch against a three-pronged spin attack, Mayers scored a majestic 210 not out and became the sixth player in the history of Tests to score a double hundred on debut. He put on a match-defining 216 with Nkrumah Bonner, another debutant. Mayers' 210 was the highest individual score on Asian soil in the fourth innings of a Test match. 395 was also the highest target achieved in Asia. Mayers was unbeaten till the end to script a famous win.
4) Sir Don Bradman: 173* vs England, Headingley, 1948
It was Sir Don Bradman's penultimate Test match and Australia required a huge 404 to win in just 345 minutes on a deteriorating day five pitch offering variable bounce to the spinners. It was Sir Bradman who first took the attack to the bowlers and made the intention clear. The legendary cricketer built a scintillating partnership of 301 in just 217 minutes with Arthur Morris. Morris got out playing a terrific knock of 182 but Bradman remained undefeated on 173 to see his side home. This was the highest successful run-chase in Tests at that time and also the last time the great Sir Don scored a run in Tests.
3) Kusal Perera: 153* vs South Africa, Durban, 2019
Chasing 304 to win, Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals after a pretty positive start. When Vishwa Fernando came into the crease as the last batter, Sri Lanka still required 78 runs to win and a win seemed very unlikely for them. But that's when Kusal Perera started accelerating. Perera toyed with a superb bowling attack that had Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier and Keshav Maharaj. Perera smashed an unbeaten 153 and his partnership of 78 with. Fernando for the last wicket was the highest ever partnership for the last wicket in a successful run-chase.
2) Brian Lara: 153* vs Australia, Bridgetown, 1999
Brian Lara played one of the greatest Test knocks of all-time against probably the best bowling attack in the history of the game in 1999. Lara put on a stellar show in Bridgetown and what made this knock very special was the way he hid the tail-enders. Lara added as many as 63 runs with Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, the West Indies no. 10 and 11 to secure a memorable victory. West Indies were 302 for nine while chasing 308. Walsh managed to block five deliveries and in the next over, Lara crunched a cover drive off Jason Gillespie for four to create history. Lara was unbeaten on 153 and his innings involved 19 majestic boundaries.
1)Ben Stokes: 135* vs Australia, Headingley, 2019
England were given a target of 359 to win. The hosts were down and out, having bundled out for just 67 in the first innings. When Stuart Broad was walking towards the pavilion as the ninth batter, England still needed 73 runs to win and Ben Stokes was their last recognised batter.
Stokes did what he does best. He counterattacked. The southpaw smashed three sixes off Nathan Lyon and two sixes and a four off Josh Hazlewood to reach his hundred. Suddenly the target started to look closer.
Stokes was dropped by Marcus Harris when England were 17 away from victory. Stokes continued to pick up boundaries. In the next over, when England needed just two to win, Lyon missed an easy run-out opportunity. Stokes was lucky in the next over as well as Australia had no review left.
Ben Stokes finished the game in style with a four off Pat Cummins. His partner Jack Leach contributed just one run in the match-turning last-wicket stand. Stokes remained not out on 135 off 219 balls and his last 84 runs came off just 67 deliveries.