The year 2019 witnessed several dramatic batting performances as the batsmen dug deep in the reserves to carve out match winning knocks. While there were several run feasts, 2019 stood out as a year when batsmen fought the odds in difficult circumstances and scored runs that mattered.
Here our list of top 5 Test knocks:-
Kusal Perera 153* vs South Africa, Durban
Before the start of the two-match series, the Sri Lankans had lost 11 out of 13 Test matches they had played on South African soil. With a side in a constant state of transition for over 5 years now and a new captain in place, not many gave the islanders a chance.
The Lankans found themselves chasing a challenging 304-run target to win the match on a juicy Durban pitch. Both the teams had failed to get past the 300-run mark in the three completed innings of the match, so hopes of a successful chase were close to none.
The trio of Philander, Rabada and Steyn reduced the visitors to 110/5 and the match all but looked over. But the hard hitting Kusal Perera had other plans. The diminutive southpaw decided to take the attack to the bowling side and brought up a century. When Kasun Rajitha was dismissed for 1, Sri Lanka still needed 78 runs to win the match. Perera farmed the strike and produced one the greatest rearguards seen in modern day cricket, scoring an unbeaten 153 to guide his team to an improbable victory
Ben Stokes – 135* vs England, Leeds
With Australia leading the series 1-0 after the first two matches, England needed to win at Headingley to keep their chances of reclaiming the Ashes live. A Josh Hazlewood burst saw the hosts bowled out for a humiliating 67 and they finally needed 359 runs in the fourth innings to win the match.
Captain Joe Root (77) and Joe Denly (50) raised hopes but when Jos Buttler was dismissed with the score on 253/6, it seemed all was over.
But this England team believed in themselves because Ben Stokes was still in the middle. He had won them the ICC World Cup from nowhere and a rescue act was display again. Stokes attacked everything that came his way and survived a few close calls and chances. But fortune favoured the brave eventually. Stokes hit 8 sixes and 11 boundaries in his unbeaten knock of 135 as the hosts hung on to win by a solitary wicket. The contribution of number 11 Jack Leach must be mentioned as he remained unbeaten on 1 after staying in the middle for exactly an hour.
Steve Smith – 144 vs Australia, Birmingham
Steve Smith could not have given a better account of himself as a cricketer as he did at Edgbaston in the first Ashes Test. Returning to Test cricket for the first time since being banned for his role in the ball-tampering scandal, Smith found himself in the middle of ruins and a packed crowd constantly reminding him of his misdemeanor.
Broad and Woakes breathed fire and so did an unforgiving English crowd. At 122/8, Australia were looking set for a sub-150 total despite a feisty performance from Smith with the bat. Peter Siddle though decided to spend some time in the middle and Smith got the ally he needed to make his statement.
From his animated leaves outside the off stump to his strokeplay, everything was perfect as the run machine was back in business. By the time Smith was dismissed for 144, Australia had roared back into the match with a total of 284. He produced another masterclass in the second innings, scoring 142 to help the Aussies set a 398-run target for the hosts. Needless to say, Australia won the match and Smith was the man of the match.
David Warner – 335* vs Pakistan, Adelaide
Unlike Smith, David Warner had not set the field on fire with his bat after his return to Test cricket post the ball-tampering ban. But the Australian summer gave him the perfect opportunity to remind the cricketing world of his genius. Warner took apart a young and hapless Pakistani attack at the Adelaide Oval.
The opener hit 39 boundaries and solitary six on way to an unbeaten 335 in the first innings. Many thought he would go for Brian Lara’s Test record of 400 but captain Tim Paine decided to declare the innings. Warner though was happy to get past the legendary Don Bradman and make his personal statement to teh world.
Mayank Agarwal – 243 vs Bangladesh, Indore
Those who have followed Mayank Agarwal’s career would know the amount of time he had to wait in the wings to finally get his international call-up. The opener though has not looked back ever since making his debut in Australia. After a successful outing in West Indies and at home against South Africa, Mayank took his game to the next level against Bangladesh.