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World Test Championship

England’s top five run chases in Test history

England news

By Martin Pegan

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England stunned India with their highest successful run chase in Test history as they surged past the target of 378 runs to secure a rousing seven-wicket victory.

As England celebrate one of their most thrilling Test triumphs, we look at their five most successful run-chases ever.

5. Target 305: New Zealand v England, Christchurch, 1997

England relied heavily on Mike Atherton in their first innings as the captain carried his bat for 94 runs off 346 balls in a total of 228. 

New Zealand built on their 118-run first-innings lead by adding 186 in their second, which seemed likely to be enough until Atherton built on his inspirational form.

The opener had enough support this time to reach a ton (118) and guide England to 226 before departing as the fourth wicket and sparking a mini-collapse when Nasser Hussain (33) and Graham Thorpe (2) were also dismissed.

John Crawley (40*) and Dominic Cork (39*) then stepped in to put on the remaining runs while Atherton was rightly hailed as Player of the Match.

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4. Target 315: England v Australia, Leeds, 2001

Australia had already tightened their grip on the Ashes by winning the first three Tests of the five-match series but England would deliver an upset in the fourth clash.

Australia took a 138-run lead into the second innings then looked for quick runs until declaring on 176/4 to give the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie plenty of time to bowl England out.

Mark Butcher had a Test batting average of 25.89 heading into the match and had not scored a century at the highest level since 1998, but played the innings of his international career while smashing 23 boundaries and a six.

Butcher’s 173 not out would be his highest score in Test cricket and led England to a win against the odds over their arch-rivals.

Butcher stroked 23 fours and one six to bring a famous victory, helped along the way by Nasser Hussain and Mark Ramprakash
Butcher stroked 23 fours and one six to bring a famous victory, helped along the way by Nasser Hussain and Mark Ramprakash

3. Target 332: Australia v England, Melbourne, 1928

The third Test in the infamous Bodyline series saw both teams plunder the runs.

Australia skipper Jack Ryder, Alan Kippax, Bill Woodfull and the incomparable Don Bradman scored tons for the home team, while Wally Hammond hit a double century in the first innings for England.

The visitors’ top-order took a slow and steady approach to the chase on a flat track as openers Herbert Sutcliffe (135) and Jack Hobbs (49) ticked off the runs then captain Douglas Jardine (33), Hammond (32) and Patsy Hendren (45) maintained the momentum.

A mini-collapse of three wickets for two runs when England needed only six more gave them a fright, but tailender George Geary was able to finish the chase with three wickets in hand.

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2. Target 359: England v Australia, Leeds, 2019

After Australia made 179 on a tricky wicket England were embarrassed by a score of just 67  with Joe Denly (12) their only batter to reach double-figures.

Australia pulled away to a 358-run lead as Marnus Labuschagne (80) led them to a score of 246 on an improving pitch but there was little hint of what was to come.

Denly (50) and skipper Joe Root (77) came together with the score on 15/2 then put on a stand of 126 before Ben Stokes arrived to deliver a remarkable Test innings.

Stokes (135*) would be the hero as he calmly piled on the runs while at the same time holding the innings together even after Stuart Broad was the ninth batter dismissed with England still 73 runs short.

The last man to come in, Jack Leach (1*), dug in at one end while Stokes gradually chipped away at Australia’s lead to complete arguably England’s sweetest success in Tests.

1. Target 378: England v India, Birmingham, 2022

Centuries from Rishabh Pant (146) and Ravindra Jadeja (104) helped India to a 132-run first-innings lead, which might have been much more if not for Jonny Bairstow (106) guiding England to 284.

Skipper Ben Stokes (4/33) gave England what seemed to be a slim chance of victory as India were restricted to 245 in their second innings, leaving the hosts with an ominous target of 378.

Openers Alex Lees (56) and Zak Crawley (46) got England off to a positive start until the latter was bowled by India stand-in skipper Jasprit Bumrah with the score on 107. 

Ollie Pope then fell for a three-ball duck and Lees was run out just two runs later as England slumped to 109/3 and looked set to fall well short in their chase.

But rather than handing the WTC points to India, the in-form duo Joe Root (142*) and Bairstow (114*) got together and took it away from the visitors with an unbeaten stand of 269*.

England secured a seven-wicket victory, completing a daring chase that will be spoken of for ages.

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