No such thing as an easy target

The Indian team celebrates after defeating Australia in the second Test at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

In the second Test of the on-going series against Australia, in Bangalore, India successfully defended a target of 188. No visiting side had ever scored 200-plus runs in the fourth innings of a Test in Bangalore, and so it was always clear that Australia was not going to have it easy. India eventually won more easily than expected, by a rather big margin of 75 runs.

India’s Test victories when defending a Target of less than 200 runs

TargetOppositionGroundMargin of VictoryStart Date
188v New ZealandMumbai (BS)60 runs25 Sept 1969
192v EnglandKolkata28 runs30 Dec 1972
143v AustraliaMelbourne59 runs07 Feb 1981
170v South AfricaAhmedabad64 runs20 Nov 1996
107v AustraliaMumbai13 runs03 Nov 2004
188v AustraliaBengaluru75 runs04 Mar 2017

 

This was the sixth time that India had successfully defended a target of less than 200 runs, and its margin of victory of 75 runs was its biggest in such victories.

In the last 50 years (i.e. since March 1967), no team has successfully defended a target of less than 200 more times than India in Tests. India has done this six times, followed by England (5) and West Indies (4). Overall, this has happened 45 times in all Tests, with England having achieved 12 such wins and Australia 10 (with most of those coming in the 19th or the early 20th century).

 

Most Test wins when defending a Target of less than 200 runs in the last 50 years

TeamInstances
India6
England5
West Indies4
Australia3
South Africa3
Pakistan3
Sri Lanka2
New Zealand1
Bangladesh0
Zimbabwe0

 

 

Most Test Losses when chasing a Target of less than 200 runs

TeamInstances
England14
Australia13
Pakistan5
South Africa5
New Zealand3
India2
Sri Lanka2
Zimbabwe1
West Indies0
Bangladesh0

 

The ground that has witnessed the most number of such victories is Sydney (6), followed by Melbourne and The Oval (5 each). Also, Australia’s loss in the second Test against India was its 13th failure when chasing a target of less than 200.

If it loses another Test when chasing a target of less than 200 runs, it will equal the record for the most number of such losses, currently held by England (14).

It is interesting to note from the second and third tables that West Indies has never lost a Test when facing a target of less than 200, and also that Bangladesh has never successfully defended a sub-200 target, but has also never lost when chasing one!

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Q&A

Steve O’Keefe had identical bowling figures of six for 35 in both innings of the first India-Australia Test in Pune. Has any other bowler taken two identical five-wicket hauls in the same Test?

— B. K. Harinath, India

That is an interesting question, Harinath. There have, in fact, been a couple of previous instances of a bowler taking identical twin five-wicket hauls in the same Test. Pakistan’s Intikhab Alam took 5/91 and 5/91 versus New Zealand in Dhaka in 1969, while India’s B. S. Chandrasekhar took 6/52 and 6/52 against Australia in Melbourne in 1978. There have also been a few near misses, namely Angus Fraser (5/60 & 5/62, v SA, 1998), Fred Spofforth 7/44 & 7/46, v Eng, 1882), Fred Martin (6/50 & 6/52, v Aus, 1890) and Shane Warne (6/122 & 6/124, v Eng, 2005).

In the recently concluded India-Australia Test in Bangalore, four bowlers took six-wicket hauls. Has this happened before?

— Sooraj Kumar, Ernakulam, Kerala

It is true that four bowlers took six-wicket hauls in the recently concluded India-Australia Test in Bangalore — Nathan Lyon (eight for 50), Ravindra Jadeja (six for 63), Josh Hazlewood (six for 67) and Ravichandran Ashwin (six for 41). There has never previously been an instance of four bowlers taking six-wicket hauls in the same Test. There have, however, been two previous instances of four six-wicket hauls in the same Test (including two six-wicket hauls by the same bowler).

I read that no visiting team has scored 200-plus runs in the fourth innings of a Test in Bangalore. Is there any other Indian venue where no visiting team has scored 200-plus runs in the fourth innings?

— Abhinav Ramesh, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

It is true that no visiting team has scored 200 or more runs in the fourth innings of a Test in Bangalore. In five (fourth) innings played by visiting teams in Bangalore, the highest score is Australia’s 195 for two in its victory against India in 1998. There are nine other Indian venues that have hosted at least three Tests each and visiting teams have posted a 200-plus score in the fourth innings at each of those venues on at least one occasion.