Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, only Test, Colombo, 5th day July 18, 2017

When underdogs came painfully close

ESPNcricinfo staff
In the wake of Zimbabwe's defeat to Sri Lanka, after being in control for the best part of five days, we look at other instances where underdogs have fumbled positions of strength

Bangladesh couldn't believe they ended up on the wrong side in Multan © AFP

Inzamam denies Bangladesh first Test win

Pakistan v Bangladesh, Multan, 2003

Before their series in Pakistan in 2003, Bangladesh had never taken a first-innings lead in a Test, leave alone winning one. In the final Test of the series, they put in their best performance yet, and by the end of it, Inzamam-ul-Haq and a number of Bangladesh players were in tears, as Pakistan won by one wicket. Defending 260 in the fourth innings, Bangladesh were well on course for victory, having reduced Pakistan to 205 for 8. When a comedy of errors involving Inzamam resulted in Umar Gul's run-out, five runs were still needed and No. 11 Yasir Ali took strike. Five balls later, a teary-eyed Inzamam was embraced by all and sundry and showered with rose petals, while the Bangladeshis were lost in disbelief.

De Silva, Ranatunga nail record chase to deny Zimbabwe

Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, Colombo, 1998

A record chase in Colombo, a series of questionable umpiring decisions, and Sri Lanka going through in the end. Nineteen years ago, a game with eerie similarities to this one was played at the Sinhalese Sports Club. Sri Lanka's most experienced pair put on a record 189-run partnership to chase down 326. After legspinner Paul Strang delivered Zimbabwe an unlikely first-innings lead, Andy Flower's unbeaten 105 left Sri Lanka a formidable target to chase in just five sessions. But some umpiring decisions went against Zimbabwe, leaving them bitter after the loss. Dave Houghton, Zimbabwe's coach, made it clear he thought the umpires had robbed his team.

Ricky Ponting's nerveless 118 saw Australia through in a close chase © Getty Images

Ponting leaves Bangladesh with 'a moral victory'

Bangladesh v Australia, Fatullah, 2006

Bangladesh had the upper hand for the better part of the Test, hammering 355 runs on the first day and gaining a 158-run first-innings lead. Shane Warne and Jason Gillespie bundled Bangladesh out for 148 in the second innings, but Australia still had to chase 307 on a deteriorating pitch. Mohammad Rafique ran through the middle order, but Ricky Ponting's 367-minute century steered Australia home with three wickets to spare.

Vettori breaks Bangladesh hearts

Bangladesh v New Zealand, Chittagong, 2008

Like the best Test matches, this one see-sawed for 14 out of 15 sessions, and New Zealand were left needing 36 runs with five wickets in hand going into the final session. Bangladesh took out Daniel Vettori, who had come in at No. 4 and compiled a patient 76. Kyle Mills and Jacob Oram saw out a tense final period, and Bangladesh lost yet another home Test from a position of strength, having set New Zealand 317 to win after earning the first-innings lead.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • shani on July 19, 2017, 21:27 GMT

    You forgot the test match pakistan vs westendies where pakistan drew the match bcz of hanif muhammad recorded longest inning of all time 333* in almost 19 hours after losing all the hope against the best fast bowling side at that time...

  • Arooz on July 19, 2017, 11:13 GMT

    The Australia Sri Lanka match in Colombo where Sri Lanka lost to Australia by 16 runs to an Alan Boarder lead team. Sri Lanka had to score only 186 runs but succumbed to unknown Shane Warne long long ago and made the route for Warney the indisputable leg spinner.

  • Pawan on July 19, 2017, 9:24 GMT

    Zimbabwe Close Shaves

    1. New Zealand at Bulawayo 1-5 November 1992 2. Pakistan at Rawalpindi 9-14 December 1993 3. Sri Lanka at Bulawayo 20-24 October 1994 4. New Zealand at Hamilton 13-17 January 1996 5. New Zealand at Harare 18-22 September 1997 6. New Zealand at Bulawayo 25-29 September 1997 7. Pakistan at Bulawayo 14-18 March 1998 8. Pakistan at Harare 21-25 March 1998 9. West Indies at Port of Spain 16-20 March 2000 10. Bangladesh at Dhaka 8-12 November 2001 11. India at Delhi 28 February - 4 March 2002 12. West Indies at Harare 4-8 November 2003 13. New Zealand at Bulawayo 1-5 November 2011 14. Bangladesh at Dhaka 25-27 October 2014

  • Ashiqur Rahman on July 19, 2017, 4:32 GMT

    Those wins could have served Bangladesh well had they won those three marches. Nevertheless they went through turmoil and now they are becoming a force to reckon.

  • Yohaan on July 18, 2017, 17:42 GMT

    FOUR vital points proved yet again that cannot be compromised again for any more ludicrous experiments (that went on for almost 4 years, beyond all LOGICAL senses & limits of SANITY).

    - Asela is not a youngster but he is a definite FINISHER proved across all formats.

    - Dickwella is a match winning youngster with proven courage/ability to pull any match across all formats.

    - Mendis is a solid no 3 who can rise to the occasion. Another proven one among numerous youngsters tried out, but proved to be living on pure hype, wasting 20+ matches to pop up one or two useless inning worthless in match perspective, unlike Mendis or Dickwella.

    - Tharanga is the indispensable sole expert Opener in SL today with proven ability, ample credentials and superb consistency to stabilize the front end of the ship to sail smoothly towards the goal of success. His Opening spot shouldn't be ludicrously compromised again across all formats , if SL is hoping to climb the ladder in ICC rankings.

  •   Gary Fraser on July 18, 2017, 17:07 GMT

    England vs New Zealand in Edgbaston (?) in I think 1973. New Zealand were chasing 480 odd and got mighty close. Congdon and Pollard hit hundreds from memory.

  • WIman on July 18, 2017, 14:09 GMT

    bad umpiring by third umpire

  • PRIYANK on July 18, 2017, 12:48 GMT

    Would also like to add to the list two more games which involved Zimbabwe.. their game against WI (still reasonably strong) at Port of Spain in 2000 when chasing 90 odd to win, they somehow ended up loosing (last "pulling rabbit out of the hat" act by WI pace quartet) and their game against India at Delhi in 2002 when they set 130 odd for India to win and had the hosts stumbling till a cameo by Harbhajan Singh settled the issue..!!

  • Shawkat on July 18, 2017, 12:29 GMT

    Name of Bangladesh team came multiple times. It shows how close they came on those occasions but left the field with tears only.

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