Looking back at other close finishes in Test match history

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England were pipped at the post by New Zealand, whose barest-of-all-margins victory by a single run in Wellington on a gripping final day saw an entertaining Test series finish all-square at 1-1.

Here, we look back at other close finishes in Test history.

West Indies beat Australia by one run – Adelaide, January 1993

Curtly Ambrose bowled West Indies to victory (Rebecca Naden/PA)

In nearly 2,500 Test matches, only once has this previously happened, with Curtly Ambrose inspiring the all-conquering Windies to victory on Australia Day. The hosts rallied from 74 for seven chasing 186. Ambrose, though, had the final say, finishing with a 10-wicket match haul when he debatably flicked the glove of last man Craig McDermott with Australia needing just two to seal a series win. But it was the Windies who prevailed and they did so again to keep alive a 13-year unbeaten sequence in Test series.

England beat Australia by two runs – Edgbaston, August 2005

Steve Harmison
Steve Harmison appeals the wicket of Michael Kasprowicz (Rui Vieira/PA)

“Jones…Bowden…Kasprowicz the man to go, and Harmison has done it.” Richie Benaud welcomed a legion of new cricket followers in arguably the greatest Test in the greatest series of all. Similar to 22 years earlier, Australia had recovered from being seven down with plenty to get to set up a grandstand finish. But Michael Kasprowicz fended a Steve Harmison bouncer to Geraint Jones and umpire Billy Bowden raised his crooked finger in a thrilling climax. Almost lost amid the frenzied finish is the fact Kasprowicz not have should been given out as the ball brushed the glove with his hand off the bat. Now, it is regarded as a mere subplot in the narrowest win – in terms of runs – in Ashes history.

England beat Australia by one wicket – Headingley, August 2019

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes celebrates the victory (Mike Egerton/PA)

While Ben Stokes fell on the losing side of a nail-biting finish this time, in the summer of 2019 he held all the aces. A matter of weeks after his World Cup final heroes against New Zealand at Lord’s, Stokes produced what may gone down as his magnum opus with an unbeaten 135 which helped England reel in 359 to complete their highest ever run-chase in Tests. An unbroken 76-run stand with last man Jack Leach, who resisted Australia for 17 balls in his one not out, had its fair share of drama but England completed a scarcely believable victory. Australia, though, retained the urn after a 2-2 series draw.

West Indies beat Australia by one wicket – Barbados, March 1999

Brian Lara
Brian Lara was the West Indies matchwinner (Rebecca Naden/PA)

While the Windies dynasty was crumbling all around them with Australia by now the dominant force in world cricket, Brian Lara rolled back the years with one of his finest innings. Set 308, the Windies lurched to 105 for five but Lara was able to withstand the dual threat of Glenn McGrath, who claimed a five-for, and Shane Warne, wicketless in the fourth innings. Lara’s 153 not out got the Windies over the line after number 11 Courtney Walsh was able to keep out five balls. The series finished 2 -2.

Sri Lanka beat South Africa by one wicket – Durban, February 2019

With Sri Lanka a fading force after the retirement of several all-time greats in the previous decade, there was only one favorite for this Test series. And when Sri Lanka slid to 226 for nine in pursuit of 304, that notion was reinforced. But Kusal Perera’s unbeaten 153 helped Sri Lanka to an incredible, against-all-odds victory. His unbroken 78-run partnership with Vishwa Fernando went down as the highest last-wicket stand in a successful fourth-innings chase in first-class cricket. Lanka went on to triumph in Port Elizabeth to become the first Asian side to win a Test series in South Africa.

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