Five great Test match thrillers

WELLINGTON (AFP): New Zealand’s dramatic one-run victory over England at Wellington on Tuesday was only the second time in nearly 2,500 Tests dating back 146 years that a match had been won by such a narrow margin.

AFP Sport looks at five other nail-biting Tests:

1993, Adelaide: West Indies beat Australia by one run

A great West Indies side that had been the dominant force in Test cricket since the mid 1970s were just starting to show signs of fraying round the edges when they achieved this thrilling success on Australia Day.

Curtly Ambrose led the West Indies to victory after Australia had rallied from 74-7.

But Ambrose, one of the all-time great fast bowlers, had last man Craig McDermott caught behind with Australia needing just two more runs to complete a series win, although there was a debate over whether the ball had flicked the batsman’s glove.

But the dismissal, in an era before the Decision Review System, stood and the win meant West Indies preserved their then record of not losing a Test series in 13 years.

1999, Barbados: West Indies beat Australia by one wicket

By now West Indies were no longer Test cricket’s preeminent power.

But two months after West Indies were whitewashed 5-0 in South Africa, star batsman Brian Lara produced one of his greatest innings against the strongest team of his era in Australia.

West Indies, set 308 to win, collapsed to 105-5 against an attack boasting two all-time greats in Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

Lara, however, responded with a breathtaking 153 not out to inpsire a remarkable win, although he still needed Courtney Walsh, a notoriously inept No 11, to survive five balls.

The series ended all-square at 2-2.

2005, Edgbaston: England beat Australia by two runs

England had not won an Ashes series since 1986/87 prior to this campaign and were, it seemed, about to go 2-0 down in a five-match contest.

All looked well for England as Australia slumped to 137-7 chasing a target of 282.

England’s Stephen Harmison (L) and Andrew Flintoff celebrate the catch that secured them a two-run win over Australia in the 2005 Ashes

But their tail dragged Australia back into the game until, with England in near despair, fast bowler Steve Harmison had No 11 Michael Kasprowicz caught behind down the legside by wicketkeeper Geraint Jones.

It later emerged the ball had brushed Kasprowicz’s glove with his hand off the bat. But there were few complaints about the tough call umpire Billy Bowden had to make in real time, with no reviews available.

England went on to regain the Ashes 2-1, with the Edgbaston encounter rated by many pundits as the greatest match of the greatest Test series of them all.

2019, Durban: Sri Lanka beat South Africa by one wicket

Sri Lanka were all but beaten at 226-9 chasing 304 only for Kusal Perera to lead the tourists to victory with a sensational 153 not out.

He also oversaw an unbroken last-wicket stand of 78 with Vishwa Fernando where the last man made a gutsy six not out off 27 balls faced.

Sri Lanka’s Kusal Perera made 153 not out to guide Sri Lanka to an extraordinary one wicket victory over South Africa in Durban

Sri Lanka weren’t finished there, going on to triumph in Port Elizabeth as well to become the first Asian side to win a Test series in South Africa.

2019, Headingley: England beat Australia by one wicket

Six months on from Mendis’ heroics, now England captain Ben Stokes — on the losing side on Tuesday — produced a similarly extraordinary innings to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Fresh from his key role in a 50-over World Cup final win against New Zealand at Lord’s, Stokes produced what could yet be the best innings of his Test career by making 135 not out as England, reeling at 286-9, reached a target of 359 — their highest run-chase to win a Test.

Stokes received solid support from Jack Leach (one not out) in a unbroken last-wicket stand of 76 that ought to have been ended shortly before the star all-rounder hit the winning runs when Australia’s Nathan Lyon somehow fumbled a seemingly routine run-out chance.

Ben Stokes shared a tenth wicket partnership of 76 with Jack Leach to drag England to a one wicket win over Australia in Leeds in 2019

Australia, however, retained the Ashes following a 2-2 series draw.