Kings of the fourth-innings chase

Pakistan’s victory in the third Test against Sri Lanka represented Test cricket at its best-particularly in the unexpected fightback in the fourth innings which was the highest total of the match. It is often said that batting in the fourth innings and winning is the best test of a batsman’s quality. Here we look at the best batsmen in successful run chases in the 4th innings.

We also see which bowlers have been most successful under these conditions. Here we consider all Tests ending up to July 7, 2015. The batsmen are arranged by order of averages. While GC Smith is the only one to have over 1000 runs in successful chases, there a few who average over 100 under these conditions. A cutoff of 10 innings is considered:;filter=advanced;innings_number=4;opposition=1;opposition=2;opposition=25;opposition=3;opposition=4;opposition=5;opposition=6;opposition=7;opposition=8;opposition=9;orderby=batting_average;qualmin1=10;qualval1=innings;result=1;size=100;spanmax1=07+Jul+2015;spanval1=span;team=1;team=2;team=25;team=3;team=4;team=5;team=6;team=7;team=8;team=9;template=results;type=batting

Notice the large gap between the leader Younis Khan and the next three (Greg Chappell, Graham Thorpe and David Boon). It is also interesting to see which bowlers have been most successful in terminating 4th-innings run chases. Here we take a minimum of 10 innings bowled:;filter=advanced;innings_number=4;opposition=1;opposition=2;opposition=25;opposition=3;opposition=4;opposition=5;opposition=6;opposition=7;opposition=8;opposition=9;orderby=bowling_average;qualmin2=10;qualval2=innings_bowled;result=1;size=100;spanmax1=07+Jul+2015;spanval1=span;team=1;team=2;team=25;team=3;team=4;team=5;team=6;team=7;team=8;team=9;template=results;type=bowling

While Warne is the only one with over 100 wickets taken in Tests where a side is bowled out in the 4th innings, Ambrose, Marshall and McGrath have the best averages. The best economy rate is (unexpectedly) by Ray Illingworth followed by Gibbs and Ambrose (again). And the best strike rate is by Ambrose (yet again) followed by Donald and Waqar Younis. While we are at it, let us see about fielding under these conditions (again with a minimum of 10 innings fielded).;filter=advanced;innings_number=4;opposition=1;opposition=2;opposition=25;opposition=3;opposition=4;opposition=5;opposition=6;opposition=7;opposition=8;opposition=9;orderby=dismissals;qualmin1=10;qualval1=innings_fielded;result=1;size=100;spanmax1=07+Jul+2015;spanval1=span;team=1;team=2;team=25;team=3;team=4;team=5;team=6;team=7;team=8;team=9;template=results;type=fielding

Gilchrist expectedly has the most dismissals with 52, while he and Haddin have the most catches (47). But the most stumpings are by old-timer Oldfield (with 7). M. Jayawardene has the most catches (27) by a non-keeper followed by Ponting with 26. When we look at dismissals per innings, Knott (2.333) has the highest followed by Haddin, Bob Taylor and Gilchrist. Among non-keepers, M. Jayawardene (1.285) is followed by Redpath.

Ironically, the two kings of the fourth innings did meet in one three-test series in 2000, when Ambrose was about to end his Test career and when Younis was just starting his. West Indies won this series 1-0, though none of these Tests involved Pakistan batting in the last innings.