Biggest first innings deficit to result in a Test win after batting first

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Biggest first innings deficit to result in a Test win after batting first | What is the biggest first innings deficit to result in a Test win?

Test cricket sure knows how to thrill. The beauty of the format is that while it is the ultimate test of skill and character, the sheer length of a match gives teams the opportunity to fight back. Over the years, memorable matches have swung 180 degrees, with teams turning around seemingly impossible situations into glorious victories.

England started 2024 in magnificent fashion, beating India by 28 runs after trailing by a mammoth 190 runs after the first innings. Where does such a victory rank among the biggest deficits to win after batting first? Here is the top five.

Top five first innings deficits to result in a Test victory (after batting first)

5. 182 by India vs. Australia, MCG, 1981

One of India’s greatest wins in Test cricket. After being restricted to 237 despite Gundappa Visnanath’s 114, India, courtesy mainly of Allan Border’s 124, faced a deficit of 182 in the first innings.

However, Chetan Chauhan (85) and the great Sunil Gavaskar (70) combined for 165 for the opening wicket to give the visitors a foothold in the game. They managed 324 in the end, leaving the Australians with 143 to win.

Enter Kapil Dev. The great all-rounder took 5/28 off 16.4 to help bundle the hosts out for just 83 to seal a magnificent win for India.

4. 190 by England vs. India, Hyderabad, 2024

England, enjoying the fruits of playing without fear under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, pulled off an outstanding victory in Hyderabad. Ollie Pope and Tom Hartley, arguably the two most-maligned players in the English lineup after the first innings, produced scarcely-believable performances in the second innings to shock the hosts.

Pope hit a memorable 196 which will go down as one of the best ever away knocks by an England player. His audacious strokeplay was a thing of beauty as he forced Rohit Sharma and the classy Indian spinners into the kind of scenario in which they have rarely faced.

Courtesy of Pope and a number of other contributions down the order, England set India 231 to win. But, given how toothless England looked at times in the first dig, India were still favourites. But, up stepped left-arm spinner Tom Hartley who produced a seven-star performance, spinning a web through the Indian lineup to finish with 7/62 on debut.

3. 192 by Sri Lanka vs. India, Galle, 2015

Sri Lanka began their 2015 Test series against India in terrible fashion. They were reduced to 60/5 before lunch on the opening day, eventually getting bowled out for 183 with Ravichandran Ashwin (6/46) the chief destroyer.

In reply, India were sitting pretty at 255/2. Anything other than an easy win for Virat Kohli’s team would have been a huge shock. But, lacksadaisacal batting gave Sri Lanka a sniff as the Indians managed just another 120, but the 192-run lead still seemed huge especially when Sri Lanka crumbled to 5/3 in the third innings.

But, enter Dinesh Chandimal. In arguably his greatest innings, Chandimal smashed 162* off 169 balls to elevate the Sri Lankans from the depth of 95/5 to the high hopes of 367. It left India needing 176, and Rangana Herath was at his masterful best, demolishing the visitors’ lineup with 7/48 off 21 overs to roll them for just 112.

2. 206 by Australia vs. Pakistan, SCG, 2010

Australia again. This time in 2010. After opting to bat first on a green monster at the SCG, Australia crumbled to 127 all-out in the face of superb seam bowling by Mohammad Asif (6/41) and Mohammad Sami (3/27). Pakistan then batted nearly 100 overs to seemingly play Australia out of the game, scoring 333 courtesy of contributions from their top five.

However, Pakistan then imploded. Mike Hussey played a blinder (134*), combining with Peter Siddle for a 123-run stand for the ninth wicket when the game seemed all-but-lost. Then, chasing 176, Pakistan crumbled to Nathan Hauritz (5/53) and Mitchell Johnson (3/27) to fall short by 36.

Later that year, Pakistan were embroiled in the spot-fixing scandal in England where rumours emerged that the Sydney Test in January was also fixed. However, nothing was definitively proven.

1. 291 by Australia vs. Sri Lanka, Colombo, 1992

The biggest first innings deficit to result in any Test win was Australia’s mammoth effort in 1992 where they came back from 291 behind to win. After scoring 256 in the first innings, the Australian bowlers toiled away as Sri Lanka ammassed a huge 547/8d courtesy of centuries from Asanka Gurusinha (137), Arjuna Ranatunga (127) and Romesh Kaluwitharana (132).

Australia then replied with 471. Every single player notched double figures, with four scoring 50+. So, they gave Sri Lanka 181 to win, and remarkably knocked them over for 164 to complete what remains the greatest turnaround in Test history. Man of the match Greg Matthews took 4/76, while the late, great Shane Warne chipped in with 3/11 off 5.1 to seal the victory.

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