Brian Lara pulls
© Getty Images
26

The Jury's Out

The greatest counter-attack

From wizardry in Jamaica to an uprising in Pakistan: our expert panel pick their favourite backs-to-the-wall classics

Brian Lara, 213
West Indies v Australia, Kingston, 1999
By Tony Cozier

On its own, Brian Lara's 213 against Australia in the second Test of the 1999 series appears as simply another in the long list of exceptional performances by a batsman as brilliant as any the game has known. For a host of reasons, it was much, much more. "In its context, with due deliberations and apologies to George Headley, Sir Garry Sobers and a host of other greats, I cannot identify a single innings by any West Indian batsman in our 71 years of Test cricket of such significance," I was moved to confidently assert at the time. Nothing since has changed my judgement.

No captain had ever been under such pressure; never had West Indies cricket been in such a state of crisis. Lara had been placed on probation for the first two Tests by the WICB, which warned that he needed "to make significant improvement in his leadership skills". The trouble could be traced back to four months earlier, when Lara and his team had remained ensconced in a London hotel, refusing to leave for their momentous first Test series in apartheid-free South Africa until they sorted out their grievances over pay and terms with the WICB. On their insistence, board president Pat Rousseau flew in from Jamaica to hear their complaints. After stripping Lara of the captaincy and planning to pick an alternative team, Rousseau backed down so that the tour proceeded, if a week late.

At the toss in the second Test, Lara told Steve Waugh, "This could be the last time I'll be doing this." By the close of the first day, another trouncing appeared inevitable

West Indies were thrashed in all five Tests and six of the seven ODIs. Lara, already established as the most exhilarating batsman of his time, averaged 31 in the Tests and 11 in the four ODIs he played. A month later, in the first Test against Australia at the Queen's Park Oval, his home ground, his fate seemed sealed when he was dismissed for 3. West Indies were swept aside for 51 in the second innings and thrashed by 312 runs.

At the toss in the second Test, Lara told Steve Waugh, "This could be the last time I'll be doing this." By the close of the first day, another trouncing appeared inevitable. After restricting Australia to 256 in their first innings, West Indies limped to 37 for 4. Lara survived; he was on 7 as he carried nightwatchman Pedro Collins with him into the next day.

What followed was sheer wizardry. Overnight, Lara was seemingly touched by some magic wand that transformed the timidity one had seen in South Africa into the assertive self-belief that had been his hallmark. Against bowling spearheaded by his long-time adversaries Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, he was in command throughout the next day, moving past his first hundred for 27 innings and carrying on to his third double.

Witness to the resurrection: fans invade the pitch after Lara's double-century

Witness to the resurrection: fans invade the pitch after Lara's double-century © Getty Images

Lara reeled off strokes of every variety in all directions; there were three sixes and 29 fours. At each of his landmarks, an invasion of the ground by dozens of jubilant spectators sent him scampering for escape - at 200, all the way into the dressing room. The Australians didn't claim a wicket in the 90 overs. Collins kept going for an hour until a blow to his midsection from McGrath caused him to retire. Jimmy Adams replaced Collins and remained Lara's virtually anonymous partner to the close. Lara ended the day on 212. Adams, his fellow left-hander, on a vital, if hardly noticed, 88.

Inspired by their captain's mastery, West Indies would not be denied. They scuttled the shocked Australians for 177 the second time round; three runs fewer would have ended in an innings defeat. Mike Coward wrote in his Wisden report: "Lara seduced the people of a bankrupt nation, resurrected his career as a batsman of rare gifts and reignited cricket throughout the Caribbean." It was, he added, "by universal consent one of the great Test innings".

In only one respect was his judgement premature. Two weeks later, at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, Lara's unbeaten 153 clinched victory by one wicket and sent West Indies ahead in the series. It was by universal consent even greater. But it was the 213 that sparked the counter-attack.

Tony Cozier is a veteran writer and commentator on Caribbean cricket

Doug Walters, 104 not out
New Zealand v Australia, Auckland, 1974
By Ian Chappell

It wasn't unusual for Doug Walters to disrupt a captain's thinking; he could do it with a practical joke fuelled by his latest purchase from a Carnaby Street magic shop or simply by turning up late for a day's play in a Test match. On this occasion Walters did it with his bat, the "Dungog Dasher", counter-attacking with his team in trouble.

No early declaration needed when Dougie's at the crease

No early declaration needed when Dougie's at the crease © PA Photos

It was Auckland 1974 and the last of a three-Test series. Australia trailed one-nil after a loss in Christchurch. I arrived at the toss to discover a pitch drowned by a hose, and when the flick of the florin favoured New Zealand captain Bev Congdon, I uttered a familiar four-letter expletive. Feeling no need for sympathy, Congdon was unmoved and asked us to bat first.

My intention was to attack from the outset with a view to declaring at lunch to ensure New Zealand had to bat with the pitch still wet. However, this ploy put us in early trouble and when Walters entered the fray we were 37 for 4. Undaunted, Walters was still there at lunch and he was the reason I didn't follow through on my intention to declare. His partner was Rod Marsh, so I reasoned that any runs we got after lunch would come quickly and I would declare once one of them was dismissed.

Walters was a wonderful on-driver, utilising his "come-to-attention shot", where he abruptly brought his back foot up to meet the front one, as though clicking the heels of his army boots

However, I reckoned without Walters' brilliant counter-attacking abilities. He was facing a decent New Zealand attack; the tall and awkward Richard Collinge, a cagey fast-medium Dayle Hadlee and his younger brother Richard, who was a tearaway at that early stage of his career, having recently supplanted Bob Cunis, whose bowling was once humorously likened to his name in being neither one thing nor the other.

New Zealand probably expected Walters to start quietly, have a look at the bowling and assess the conditions, but he unnerved them by playing his natural game. This was one of his greatest assets - the temperament that let him play the same way no matter the situation, and his ability to focus on the next ball and forget the previous one. He had the perfect disposition for a No. 6; he could sit around and wait for long periods, smoking and playing cards but always with an eye on the game, and once he donned the pads the 52-pack was put away.

Bad pitch? Batting collapse? Walters knew only one way to play

Bad pitch? Batting collapse? Walters knew only one way to play © Getty Images

Walters was a great cutter and on this pitch where the ball bounced steeply but slowly, he employed the shot regularly. He was also a wonderful on-driver, utilising his "come-to-attention shot", where he abruptly brought his back foot up to meet the front one, as though clicking the heels of his army boots.

It's rarely mentioned but Walters was also a great runner between wickets. Earlier on that tour he scored a century in a session (not an uncommon feat for him) against Northern Districts and in doing so only hit one four; taking advantage of deep-set fields he manufactured twos. His running between wickets was also a feature in Auckland, where he made 104 off just 138 balls, including 15 fours. Marsh contributed 45 with a few lusty blows and tea was taken when Australia were dismissed for 221. By stumps New Zealand, batting on a pitch that was still damp, were 85 for 8. Australia went on to win the match by 297 runs, as Ian Redpath carried his bat for 159 in the second innings.

Walters' counter-attack, mounted with Australia in a parlous position, turned the match and wrested the initiative from a rampant New Zealand team. Just one of many occasions when Walters' aggressive play from No. 6 helped Australia win a Test.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel Nine, and a columnist

Kamran Akmal, 113
Pakistan v India, Karachi, 2006
By Osman Samiuddin

By the time a ninth Test in less than two years came around, the overriding sense accompanying the India-Pakistan rivalry was that it had reached a point of saturation. It was great the two were playing again, but already they were playing too much too often.

In 2006, Akmal was a remarkable cricketer capable of remarkable feats

In 2006, Akmal was a remarkable cricketer capable of remarkable feats © Associated Press

The preceding two Tests, in Lahore and Faisalabad, had not helped this sense of overfill. There were too many runs, too many boundaries, and no real action. When the tour arrived in Karachi for the final Test, it felt like that first evening of Eid, when the time comes to recognise the futility of the day's culinary excesses and regret it. To what end all that sugar?

In Karachi there were clouds, and unusually for a coastal city, it stands immeasurably improved with clouds. They give it the grandeur a city of its size and type deserves (they do not, as a general habit, give rain). At the National Stadium there was also grass on the pitch. In micro terms the combination meant swing. In the bigger picture, it meant the rivalry had a heartbeat, a renewed purpose.

By the time Kamran Akmal walked to the crease on the first morning, with Pakistan 39 for 6, 10.3 overs had produced more meaningful cricket than the entire series had done. Irfan Pathan's deliveries were hooping elegant curves through the air. His companions were not as consistent but were still threatening.

Akmal scored hundreds for fun and he did it with such baby-faced innocence that it was impossible not to get giddy at the prospects of a great future

Nearly a decade on, the memory can lull you into believing Akmal played only one kind of shot that day, all innings long. Crisp as they were, the few cuts, a pull or two and even some straight drives were ultimately lost against the geometrical interplay of his cover drives.

He was being fed by three left-arm pacemen, pitching full for swing and wide to exploit a natural angle across him, or to bring one back. So getting driven through cover made the geometry of this battle complete. There was such purpose in those shots. Again and again each ball sped to that same area, as firmly convinced as a young ideologue that its destiny lay there and only there.

Early on he did not lunge at the ball, unlike the others before him and unlike himself later in his career. Akmal let the ball come to him, so that it seemed as if it was swinging to his command and not the bowler's. After a while the swing lessened and Pathan, Zaheer Khan and RP Singh loosened their holds. Rahul Dravid was still fairly fresh in the business of captaincy and maybe more proactive than the end-days Sourav Ganguly, so the fields were inviting.

A geometrical progression: Akmal repeatedly drove through the covers during his Karachi century

A geometrical progression: Akmal repeatedly drove through the covers during his Karachi century © Associated Press

But all this simply felt like the inevitable consequence of Akmal's counter, because around that time he was emerging as a remarkable cricketer capable of regular remarkable feats. His keeping was at its peak, safe to both pace and spin and capable of the spectacular. Two months earlier he had dived around the stumps and at Marcus Trescothick's feet to catch the ball left-handed after an attempted sweep hit Trescothick's foot and popped up.

Not only was he scoring hundreds for fun - this was his seventh international hundred in a year - he was making all kinds of them. Less than a year before Karachi, he batted nearly 60 overs to help Pakistan draw a Test in Mohali. In Lahore in the opening Test of the series, he made an 81-ball 102. There were also three ODI hundreds as opener, including one in Australia. And he did it with such baby-faced innocence that it was impossible not to get completely carried away and get giddy at the prospects of a great future.

In Karachi, an older innings was recalled: Moin Khan's 70, made seven years earlier, in Calcutta. That was from a worse position - 26 for 6 - and Moin too was a wicketkeeper, but his was an old-style rearguard and took four and a half hours. This day Akmal scored 113 of the 197 runs Pakistan added while he was at the crease and it was over in less than three and a half hours. By day's end, Pakistan were already on top. It was a counter-attack in its purest sense - as Australians see it. It enhanced the rivalry but also ended up transcending it.

Osman Samiuddin is a sportswriter at the National and the author of The Unquiet Ones: A History of Pakistan Cricket

Tom Graveney and John Murray, 217-run partnership
England v West Indies, The Oval, 1966
By Rob Steen

At its peak of expression, the cricketing counter-attack has no sporting equal. Momentum can be fiendishly hard to reverse, especially when contests consume the best part of a week, but once it does - witness Graham Dilley and Ian Botham's despairing let's-give-it-some-humpty assault at Headingley in 1981 - the collective intoxication can mesmerise us for days. Yes, defence, concentration, patience and obstinacy can all loosen the opposition's grip, but the sudden, thrilling charge, riffing on risk and reaffirmation, disdaining the diktats of the scoreboard, can alter the balance of power with spellbinding speed.

The counter-seduction: Graveney and Murray gently pile on the runs against West Indies

The counter-seduction: Graveney and Murray gently pile on the runs against West Indies © Getty Images

My choice meets precisely none of those requirements.

Friday, August 19, 1966. Guided by a Grinch of a grandfather and the BBC TV commentators, a ten-year-old Test virgin winces as England, replying to West Indies' dead-rubber 268, sink to 166 for 7 against the diverse might of Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith, Lance Gibbs and Garry Sobers. At the end of a summer of virtually ceaseless woe, the virgin is informed, consolation is off the menu. Faith in the judgement of his elders would never recover.

Joined by wicketkeeper John Murray, Tom Graveney, nudging 40, sets about repairing the damage with an assurance that re-poses those endless questions about his years in the wings - or so the Daily Telegraph would reveal the following morning. To that most poetic of cricket correspondents, Alan Ross - the virgin would subsequently discover - here was "a player of yacht-like character, beautiful in calm seas, yet at the mercy of every change of weather". How serenely and beautifully he sailed that afternoon. Yet so handsomely did Murray progress, proclaimed EW Swanton, the biggest compliment he could pay was to confess that he found it virtually impossible to tell the partners apart.

Aggression was unseen, unsensed; artistry and impassiveness ruled. The score mounted to the sound of metronomic clicks and deeply satisfying plinks

The only spectator sport the virgin had previously been exposed to had been effball, though this had acquainted him with the counter-thrust, unforgettably so: Everton storming back from 2-0 down to beat Sheffield Wednesday and win the FA Cup, then England rallying from both an early deficit and a last-minute equaliser to beat West Germany and lift the World Cup. This was different in almost every respect.

Sobers at the Gabba in 1960; Brian Lara and Carl Hooper in Bridgetown in the opening session of the epochal 1995 Worrell Trophy showdown; Davy Warner taming Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in Adelaide in 2012; Ben Stokes and Joe Root defusing Trent Boult and Tim Southee at Lord's five months ago: counter-offensives all. Here was a counter-seduction.

Aggression was unseen, unsensed; artistry and impassiveness ruled. The score mounted to the sound of metronomic clicks and deeply satisfying plinks. As the boundaries flowed, gentle applause rippled from the screen. Every four was a small but significant victory, yet emotion there was none. No cavorting or leaping into each other's arms; no chants or supportive roars from the terraces; merely a faint hum of joy and a growing feeling that everything might just be all right.

Tom and John: artistic and impassive

Tom and John: artistic and impassive © Getty Images

By stumps the total had almost doubled. "Bloody brilliant," declaimed England's grateful third captain of the season, Brian Close. Graveney ran himself out the next morning for 165, the alliance worth 217, whereupon John Snow and Ken Higgs cheekily plundered 128 for the last wicket - and Snow even had the audacity to call for a new bat. The ten-year-old had lost his virginity in style.

Two days later, picking up the Daily Express in the departure lounge en route to a family holiday in Spain, he read the news (oh boy!): England had romped home by an innings. To him, the score was starker: Logic 0, Possibility 1. First impressions don't get much more indelible, reliable or perfect.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

VVS Laxman, 109
Australia v India, Sydney, 2008
By Siddhartha Vaidyanathan

When VVS Laxman strode into the sun-bathed Sydney Cricket Ground on a gorgeous Thursday afternoon early in 2008, the overall mood was in dire need of uplift. India had been outclassed in the first Test, in Melbourne. Their batsmen were badgered outside off stump and had no answers to Australia's funky field settings. Anil Kumble admitted that the top order had been shackled and urged them to express themselves in Sydney without fearing the consequences.

VVS Laxman: glorious in the gloom

VVS Laxman: glorious in the gloom © Getty Images

The first day at the SCG pointed to a fightback. Australia were limping at 193 for 6 when Andrew Symonds, their last recognised batsman, edged to the wicketkeeper. The snick cut through the burble. Ishant Sharma didn't bother to appeal; he was already into his celebration. The Test had been thrown open. The series had caught fire. Except, Steve Bucknor pricked the giant bubble of excitement with a gentle shake of the head. Symonds went on to 162. And the match, and series, was Australia's for the taking.

Laxman joined his chum Rahul Dravid with India at 8 for 1. It is unclear if they hatched a plan but over the next three and a half hours they undertook vastly different journeys. Dravid was stuck in a blind alley, searching for his timing, unable to beat the field, his struggle so apparent he received a rousing ovation when he sneaked a single after spending 46 agonising minutes on 18. Laxman soared, crunching square drives, the sound of bat on ball silencing the crowd, the sight of it speeding to the fence evoking gasps.

When Laxman batted with such glorious abandon, he was not merely changing the course of a Test; he was clearing the cobwebs from his team-mates' minds

Dravid was desperate to seek out the gaps in the field; Laxman couldn't find the fielders if he tried. At one stage Mitchell Johnson had two extra covers, a short mid-off and a point. None of them mattered. Laxman caressed two fours through the cordon, picked off a brace through cover, cracked another four, through cover, and then, as if delivering a punchline to an elaborate joke, walked across his stumps and flicked to square leg.

When Laxman batted with such glorious abandon - as he did at several points in his career - he was not merely changing the course of a Test; he was clearing the cobwebs from his team-mates' minds, infusing them with belief, stirring them to join in his revolt. He had constructed a monument seven years earlier, waltzing down the track and driving Shane Warne inside out in Kolkata; and he worked another miracle in Adelaide in 2003, partnering Dravid in a 303-run stand. Here he inspired a listless line-up to amass 532. And gave India a chance to draw level.

Fielders? What fielders?

Fielders? What fielders? © Getty Images

Eventually it would not be enough to avoid defeat. The ugly scenes at the end of the Test - possibly the most rancorous since Bodyline - would consign the innings to a mere footnote. The endless post-mortems would leave no space to get our heads around such a wondrous innings. Which is more of a reason to remind ourselves that for those few hours on the second day in Sydney, with India on the rack and the series on the line, Laxman found a way to make the loudest of statements with the most delicate of touches. Some counter-attacks need gunfire; some only need a paintbrush.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is a writer based in the USA

 

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  • POSTED BY Purnima N Balasubramoniam Mahadevan on | October 19, 2015, 16:13 GMT

    yes true this list is end les' there are other i nnings ;one by botham in a ashes series after a follow on saving the test and then winning it because there also aus failed to r reach small target then again sobers his saving of w i is 1 i n the same 66 67 series he res cued wi team from from a certain defeat 5 for 75 scoring 166 not out with hol ford and then making eng land 8 for 208 runs; if my memory serves right ; theni ni india in 67 test at madras he saved a certain defeat remaining not out wtth tail enders ;there are many other egs like liiyod with roberts in cal cutta every body sharing their ex periences ;and it is highly personal a great one becomes legend when they repeat again these feats; and every country has their heroes and legends and their position is elevated depending on their teams position and wins based on home or away and opposite teams strength es weakness and so many factors; so the debate is end les ;e

  • POSTED BY harshthakor on | October 19, 2015, 12:38 GMT

    @ cricketcarl

    thanks very much for complement,appreciate it.

    To me the ultimate batsmen when the teams backs were to the wall was Javed Miandad,Rahul Dravid,Steve Waugh Alan Border and Ian Chappell.They may not have been as spectacular or flamboyant as Lara or Gilchrist but reminded you of a surgeon performing an operation on an incurable patient.Border and Dravid were generally defensive but Ian Chappell and Miandad could niggle opponents more than anyone.They displayed the grit of a military commander and would not curb their attacking play.When the team faced a crisis they could even overshadow the likes of Viv Richards or Tendulkar.Such batsmen ressurected their team's from the grave overshadowing batsmen of higher class and proving the importance of mental tenacity.At his best in 1983-83 Mohinder Amarnath could have joined them.

    Perhaps an innings I forgot was Gary Sobers 113 against England at Kingston in 1967-68 on a broken wicket .

  • POSTED BY Myriadmind on | October 19, 2015, 11:24 GMT

    Though this is an exclusively test cricket list. I'd think Kapil's 175* against Zimbabwe at Turnbridge Wells in the 1983 WC, should find a special mention, if only for what the 1983 WC win meant for the subsequent generations of Indian cricket. The win against Zimbabwe not only kept them alive but also allowed Kapil's Devils to slay giants like Australia, England in the Semi's and finally the mighty West Indies in the shock win in the '83 finals. As an Indian cricket lover I'd rate the the 138 ball knock by the Haryana Hurricane as one of the most inspiring counter-attacks in Indian cricket along with VVS Laxman's defying and defining knocks against the mighty Aussies.

  • POSTED BY Mr_Anonymous on | October 19, 2015, 1:44 GMT

    I agree with @Paras Gandhi and @Ritesh. The best counter attack that I have seen was VVS Laxman's epic 281 in partnership with Dravid. Hard to forget that match and what a performance to end the world record for most wins by a dominant Australian side (16 I believe) and easily the best side in the world in that time (or if you look at some other articles on Cricinfo possibly one of the most dominant in history).

  • POSTED BY cricketcarl on | October 18, 2015, 14:20 GMT

    "HARSHTHAKOR" i must say, you know your stuff, what an amazing list, no hooha, no favouritism, just the facts, well done. yes the 153not was incredible, a lot of talk about thunderstorms, military commanders, doctors, fighter pilots, sinking ships, magicians, enemy attacks and even hercules gets a mention, and in the middle of all that, a list of innings that would be very difficult to top. perhaps any of michael slaters 100s, seemed some sort of counter attack despite whatever the situation was at the time, even the first morning of the first test in a series, same goes for gilly i guess. and in a completely opposite manner but still with the same attributes would be kepler wessels, always a back to the wall, game turning, balance shifting 100 when he made one it seemed. probly goes for border whose 100s always seemed back to the wall, against all odds kinda innings causing the opposition to put a bit more weight on their back foot, ok, thanks for reading

  • POSTED BY hamanar on | October 18, 2015, 8:32 GMT

    One innings that seems a shame to leave out is Nathan Astle's 222 against England in 2002. Back to the wall innings on a wicket doing a bit and still the fastest test double century of all time. In a losing cause granted. Might have been worth a mention, perhaps.

  • POSTED BY telemarkskier on | October 18, 2015, 5:41 GMT

    Sunil Gavaskar's double century in the 4th innings of the Oval test against England in 1979 doesnt make it??!! He almost delivered victory for the Indians then.

  • POSTED BY Brittle Bones Baba on | October 18, 2015, 0:51 GMT

    Though Lara's 153* were perhaps the greatest innings but what shocked me most how could the writer forgot another greatest knock of all time...Adam Gilchrist's 149* off 162 balls to take Australia from a precarious 126 for 5 to their 369 victory target. And that knock came against Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Saqlain Mushtaq. This counter-attack deserves to be among top 5.

  • POSTED BY Mukul Akolkar on | October 17, 2015, 19:42 GMT

    was shocked not to see some of the best counter attacking innings in history, that took place in the recent past, in this list. First, there is the magnificent 302 from Brendon McCullum at Wellington in 2014 after the Kiwis were caught in trouble at 94-5 in the second innings. Then there is the ever-memorable 281 from VVS Laxman at Eden, when India were following on. There is also the scintillating 329 from Clarke at the SCG in the 2012 summer, when Australia were in trouble at 37-3. Ponting and Clarke stood firm and stitched a huge partnership. There is also the 224 from MS Dhoni after India were 196-5 trailing Australia's 380. If Kamran Akmal and Laxman's 109 can make this list, almost every single one mentioned above should make it too.

  • POSTED BY harshthakor on | October 17, 2015, 17:05 GMT

    My best choice Individual innings with backs to the wall

    1.Lara's 153 at Barbados in 1999v Australia 2.Kim Hughes 100 at Melbourne v West Indies in 1981-82 3.Alan Borders 100 and 98 n;o at Trinidad in 1984 4.V.V.S.Laxman's 281 at Kolkata in 2001 5.Rahul Dravid's 233 n.o at Adelaide in 2003-04 6.Ian Chappell's 156 v West Indies at Perth in 1975-76 7.Ian Botham's 149 n.o v Australai at Leeds in 1981 8.Mohinder Amarnath's 80 and 91 at Barbados in 1983. 9.Majid Khan's 167 at Georgetwon in 1976 10.Peter Willey's 100 at the Oval v West Indies in 1980 11.Clive Lloyd's 161 at Kolkata in 1983-84 12.Asif Iqbal's 146 at the Oval in 1967.

    Ian Botham's Leeds 149 v Australia turned game like it has never been done before like a thunderstorm erupting on the sunniest of days.It must rank in the top bracket.I never forget Willey's knock which saved England who were precariously placed at 92-9 on the final day.

  • POSTED BY harshthakor on | October 17, 2015, 16:52 GMT

    In a match-wining cause Kim Hughes unbeaten 100 out of 198 against West Indies in 1981-82 would top my list when you consider the situation of the game.the Carribaen pace attack was ripping the heart out of the Australian batting till Kim Hughes defied them with the nerves of a military commander on the verge of his troop facing imminent defeat and the skill of a surgeon performing an operation on a patient on the verge of death.It was batting craft at it's best against lethal pace bowling on a wicket with uneven bounce.In drawn encounter Alan Border's 100 and 98 n.o.is at the top because it saved Australia from almost certain defeat against the best pace attack ever.Close behind is also Mohinder Amarnath's century at Trinidad in 1983 in the 2nd innings and his 143 v Pakistan in the 1st test in 1984 after India faced a follow on .Border and Amarnath displayed the grit of a great fighter pilot warding off enemy attacks.In a losing cause I pick Amarnath's 80 and 91 at Barbados in 1983

  • POSTED BY harshthakor on | October 17, 2015, 16:41 GMT

    A good selection.However my choice would still include Brian Lara's unbeaten 153 against Australia in 1999 on a broken wicket in Barbados in a match-winning run chase of 308 runs which accounted for 50% of the team's total runs .It was batting craft at his brilliant best like a magician and an architect moulded together.Lara simply didn't flinch and ressurected his side from the grave at 104-5.In partnerships i can't understand the exclusion of the Dravid-Laxman 376 run stand vAustralia in Kolkata that revived a sinking ship to gain a famous win .Close behind was also the epic 166 run partnership of Majid and Zaheer at Kingston which saved a game after a 250 run deficit in the 1st innings.My individual innings would always include Alan Border's herculean match-saving effort when scoring 100 and 98 n.o at Trinidad in 1984 and e Kim Hughe's unbeaten 100 v West Indies lifted Australia from the doom of despair to gain a famous win.

  • POSTED BY Bilal_Choudry on | October 17, 2015, 15:51 GMT

    Lara's series was the best that I remember. One man against a full strength Australia with leggie twins spinning it yards. Akaml's innings was a true game changer how many could bet from 30 odd for 6 inside the first hour for a 400 run win ?

  • POSTED BY Purnima N Balasubramoniam Mahadevan on | October 17, 2015, 15:24 GMT

    this particular innings stands above all because of its sheer magic and the circumstances leading to it and the tremendous pressure lara was facing as a captain and as a batas man going through a lean period and w i a s a great cri cketin gg power and now sliding down so dram aticaly ;lg reatest innings by a genius at his best for restoring his pride and his nation; ; none o f the other bates man hashas this pressure only saving the test from another disaster 2001 comes under t hat putting their best and succeding and going to win that test;

  • POSTED BY Paras Gandhi on | October 17, 2015, 11:18 GMT

    The Greatest of the greatest not mentioned here is the innogs by VVS and Rahul in 2001 against the Mighty Australians in Kolkota. Who would agree??

  • POSTED BY heathrf1974 on | October 17, 2015, 7:24 GMT

    Brian Lara's knock in 1999 is the greatest batting performance in my lifetime where under enormous pressure he single-handedly won that test for the Windies.

  • POSTED BY Longmemory on | October 17, 2015, 7:08 GMT

    Brilliant topic and great writing. While they were all terrific counter-attacks, I can see why Tony Cozier would rate Lara's as the greatest innings ever in West Indian test history. Reading about it gives me the goosebumps even now. One tends to forget the circumstances and the details as time goes by. Its knocks like these that make Brian Lara one of the greatest ever to have played the game.

  • POSTED BY Salman Mehboob on | October 17, 2015, 6:53 GMT

    This article is about the greatest counter attacks and people are discussing partnerships minus fight back.

  • POSTED BY SumoSumo on | October 11, 2015, 12:32 GMT

    Sachin-Azhar partnership v/s SA attack of Donald Shaun, pollock, Lance clusner, 2nd test 1996..breathtaking.

  • POSTED BY Cricinfouser on | October 8, 2015, 9:29 GMT

    What about Dravid Laxman partnership at Edan Garden, thats epic

  • POSTED BY Deepanjan Datta on | October 6, 2015, 16:49 GMT

    I haven't seen Graveney's innings, and Doug Walters was a bit of a hit-and-miss anyway. Lara was such a natural at dominating that it was almost his default mode if pushed to a corner. Laxman's counter-attacks have always been beautiful to watch and epic in proportion against the best team of his generation. But for sheer 'impact' of the word "counter attack", I have to pitch (beyond my staunchest national allegiance) for Akmal's innings. Given the sort of start Irfan Pathan provided, it was a masterful, plucky innings which socked India so hard that by the end, they were barely breathing.

  • POSTED BY amar_shaidu on | October 6, 2015, 10:35 GMT

    Yes that match winning innings from Kamran Akmal was brilliant, not to forget Abdul Razzaq's contribution who held on with Kamran Akmal for hours to save the Ship !

  • POSTED BY manish_theRed on | October 5, 2015, 7:03 GMT

    also, Sehwag's double hundred vs Sri Lanka in the 2nd test of the 2008 series, where no one was able to pick Mendis, might get a look in

  • POSTED BY CricIndia208 on | October 4, 2015, 11:14 GMT

    Sehwag's incredible 309 against pakistan at Multan 309. India were the underdogs with Pakistan's coach, the loud mouth Miandad, ridiculing some of the Indian players like Irfan Pathan before the series. Sehwag shut them up permanently. His attack was so deadly that Saqlain retired from tests shortly after that series. India won by an innings the test and later on the series too.

  • POSTED BY KRISCO on | October 3, 2015, 1:52 GMT

    glorious , evocative piece by siddharth , i remember the innings. it was almost as if in a trance, magical.. something always is about VVS. sydney was his home away from home!!