Sri Lanka were staring down the barrel at 226/9 in their chase of 304 against South Africa in the Kingsmead Test. However, Kusal Perera and Vishwa Fernando strung a solid partnership that changed the entire course of the match. Kusal Perera blasted 153 and shared a partnership of 78 with Vishwa Fernando for the final wicket as Sri Lanka scripted history by winning the Test by one wicket and taking a 1-0 lead in the two-match series. In the 78-run stand, Kusal Perera’s contribution was 67 while Vishwa Fernando’s was six with five extras. The calculated hitting of Kusal Perera and the grit shown by Fernando was the stuff of legends.
Following the exploits of the last wicket pair, here are other instances when the last wicket partnership gave the side glory and symbolized guts.
VVS Laxman and Pragyan Ojha's 11-run stand gave India their only one-wicket win in Test history. (Image credit: Twitter)
1) VVS Laxman and Pragyan Ojha partnership vs Australia, Mohali 2010
The first Test between India and Australia in Mohali was poised on a knife edge. Shane Watson’s 126 helped Australia reach 428 while Sachin Tendulkar’s 98 helped India reach 405. Australia was bowled out for 192 and India was set a target of 216. India stumbled to 124/8 and VVS Laxman, battling a back injury, strung a glorious 81-run stand with Ishant Sharma (31) but when he fell, India needed 11 more. With every over, the tension grew. Pragyan Ojha was almost run-out and this invoked the fury of Laxman who hurled expletives. However, Ojha ran four runs and with two leg-byes, India clinched a heart-stopper. The 11-run stand might not look high on numbers, but it had drama, emotion and tension written on it.
Australia lost the Edgbaston Test by two runs and they lost the Ashes for the first time in 16 years. (Image credit: Twitter)
2.) Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz stand vs England, Edgbaston 2005
A Test match for the ages. Marcus Trescothick blasted 90 and England reached 408 in just 79.2 overs. Australia was bowled for 312 and it took an Andrew Flintoff special of 73 to help England reach 182 all out and set Australia a target of 282. Australia was in big trouble at 220/9 after Shane Warne, who picked up 10 wickets was hit wicket for 42. However, the Aussies refused to give up. Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz braved Flintoff’s reverse swing and pace to make progress. Slowly, Australia was chipping away at the runs. Lee broke the shackles with three fours off Ashley Giles. Both batsmen suffered blows to their bodies from Flintoff and Steve Harmison but they refused to give up. With three runs needed, Harmison banged a short ball and Kasprowicz gloved it to Geraint Jones as England won the match by two runs. The last-wicket stand symbolized Australian grit and lit up a series that would be dubbed the greatest ever.
Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed prolonged Australia's pain in Pakistan. (Image credit: ICC Twitter)
3.) Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed last-wicket stand vs Australia, Karachi 1994
Australia was aiming to break their jinx in Pakistan and they started well, with Michael Bevan’s 82 helping them reach 337. Pakistan conceded an 81-run lead but despite David Boon’s 114, Wasim Akram’s 5/63 set Pakistan a target of 314. The hosts were in trouble at 258/9 but Inzamam-ul-Haq was given great assistance by Mushtaq Ahmed. The duo attacked and defended with calm and with four runs needed victory, Warne bowled a flighted delivery to Inzamam as the batsman looked to whip it to the leg side. The batsman missed it but Ian Healy, the wicketkeeper missed the stumping and the ball ran away for four byes as Pakistan prolonged Australia’s pain.
James Anderson and Monty Panesar batted for over 12 overs as England escaped with a draw against Australia. (Image credit: Twitter)
4.) James Anderson and Monty Panesar vs Australia, Cardiff 2009
It has been dubbed as the greatest rearguard in the history of Tests. In the first Test in Cardiff, England notched up 435 but Australia responded with 674/6 declared thanks to centuries from Simon Katich (122), Ricky Ponting (150), Marcus North (125*) and Brad Haddin (121). Australia seemed to be headed for victory when Paul Collingwood’s epic rearguard ended on 74. At 233/9 and with just over an hour to go, the odds seemed heavily stacked against James Anderson and Monty Panesar. For 11 overs, Panesar and Anderson managed to hang in against Nathan Hauritz’s offspin and Peter Siddle’s pace. The pair also indulged in some time-wasting tactics towards the end and they hung in for a draw. It was indeed the great escape.
Jimmy Adams and Courtney Walsh's 19-run stand denied Pakistan their first series win in West Indies. (Image credit: ICC Twitter)
5.) Jimmy Adams and Courtney Walsh vs Pakistan, St Johns Antigua 2000
Mohammad Yousuf’s 103 helped Pakistan reach 269 but Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s 89 helped West Indies take a four-run lead with wasim Akram taking 6/61. Pakistan was bowled out for 219 and West Indies needed 216 for a win. The hosts were reduced to 197/9 with Wasim Akram taking five wickets as Pakistan neared their first series win in West Indies. However, Jimmy Adams had other ideas and aided by Courtney Walsh, West Indies closed in with singles and twos. Pakistan did not help their cause with Saqlain Mushtaq missing a clear run-out chance off Adams with both batsmen at the same end. Adams held his nerve and West Indies sneaked home by one wicket to win the series against Pakistan.