Test Cricket: Cricket is a game of unpredictability. No one can guarantee the outcome until the last ball of the match. And there have been many instances where a team on the verge of losing the match came out victorious. Sometimes, a team that is winning the match ends up losing it. And when it comes to the longest format of the game, the unpredictability level increases more. Because five-day cricket comes with more thrills and excitement. The game is never over till the very last ball of the last session on day 5.
That is why fans stayed glued to the television or to the ground for the entire duration of five days. Because each day, session, and over can bring something new to the game. And in this article, we will discuss something impossible that has only been achieved thrice in the history of Test cricket. There have been only four times when a team has won the match while following on (the follow on rule for test cricket states that a team batting second can be invited to bat again if they trail by more than 200 runs after the end of their first inning).
1. England vs Australia (1894) – England won the match by 10 runs
This was only the 42nd Test match in history, played in 1894 between England and Australia. Batting first, Australia made a huge first-inning score of 586 runs, courtesy of a double century from Syd Geogory (201) and a century from George Giffen (161). Tom Richardson for England took five wickets in the first innings. The English team were bowled out for 325 runs in their first innings, trailed by 261 and batted again because Australia enforced the follow-on.
English opener Albert Ward, who made 75 in the first innings, went on to score his century in the second. He scored the highest at 117 to help England reach 437 runs and give the Aussies a target of 176 runs. Australia was the clear favorite going into the chase. But as everyone knows, a chase on the fourth and fifth day is never easy. That’s exactly what happened to them, and they were bowled out for 166 runs and lost the match by just 10 runs. For England, Bobby Peel took 6/67 in the second innings. This was the first ever instance of a win following a follow-on.
2. England vs Australia (1981) – England won the match by 18 runs
This was only the second instance of this kind between two arch rivals, England and Australia. This was the third test of Australia’s tour of England at Leeds. Batting first, the Men in Yellow declared their first innings for 401/9 with a century from opener John Dyson. Skipper Ray Bright also scored 87 runs. For England, it was Ian Botham who took six wickets. England were bowled out for 174 in their first innings and were forced to bat again.
Ian Botham, who took six wickets and scored a half-century in the first inning for England, went on to score a century. He scored an unbeaten 149 runs and England got all out for 356, giving Australia the target of 130 runs. But this time, English pacer Bob Wills single-handedly demolished the Australian batting lineup and took eight wickets. As a result, the visitors fell 18 runs short of the target and were bowled out at 111.
3. India vs Australia (2001) – India won the match by 171 runs
This is both amazing and unlucky at the same time that the third and most recent instance happened with Australia again. This was the second match of Australia’s tour of India at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, in 2001. Batting first, Australia posted a score of 445 with a century from skipper Steve Waugh (110) and a knock of 97 from Mathew Hayden. Harbhajan Singh took seven wickets in that game, including a hat-trick. However, the Indian team were bowled out for just 171 runs in their first innings, trailing by 274 runs.
Australia enforced the follow-on over the Indian team, and with nothing much left in the game, the Indian batter came with a different intent. Both openers, Shiv Sundar (39) and Sadagoppan Ramesh (30) got starts. Skipper Sourav Ganguly also scored 48 runs in that innings. But after his wicket, Rahul Dravid joined the crease with VVS Laxman. And then the rest is history. Both batsmen added a massive 376 run partnership for the fifth wicket and played around four sessions. Both also made big hundreds. In fact, Laxman went on to register his highest test score of 281 and Dravid made 180 runs.
With two big centuries, India declared their second innings at 657/7, the highest ever score after playing follow-on. They gave Australia a target of 384. And with another magical spell from Harbhajan, who took six wickets again in the second innings, the visitors were bowled out for 212, handing India a victory of 171 runs.
List of Test matches won after Follow on
|14 Dec 1894
|16 Jul 1981
|11 Mar 2001
|24 Feb 2023