When even 500 wasn’t enough

March 31, 2024

Pakistan heads the list of countries that have undergone this painful experience, having faced the unfortunate outcome of losing a Test despite scoring 500 or more runs in the first innings on four occasions

When even 500 wasn’t enough

There have been 18 instances in the long history of Test cricket, when a side has scored 500 runs or more in its first innings but has still lost the match. Pakistan heads the list of countries that have undergone this painful experience, having faced this unfortunate outcome on four occasions. Australia is next with three such instances. England, India, New Zealand, and Bangladesh have each encountered this fate twice, while the West Indies, Sri Lanka and South Africa have met with this scenario once each.

Pakistan vs Australia, Melbourne ... 29th December 1972 -
3rd January 1973

The first time this happened to Pakistan was in Melbourne in the 2nd Test of their 1972-73 Test series against Australia. Led by Ian Chappell, Australia won the toss and elected to bat. They had two Test debutants who would both go on to become famous names in the pantheon of cricket heroes, namely Jeff Thomson and Max Walker.

On a perfect batting strip, Australia ran up a score of 349/4 by the end of the first day. Ian Redpath scored a patient 135 while Ian Chappell contributed 66 runs. When stumps were drawn on the opening day, Greg Chappell was batting on 71 and Rod Marsh on 27. When Marsh fell the next morning for 74, Ian Chappell declared the Australian innings closed with their total at 441. Greg Chappell remained undefeated on 116.

Sadiq Mohammad and Saeed Ahmed, who was playing his last Test, opened the batting for Pakistan. With the team score at 31, Saeed retired hurt, having scored 18 by that time. Zaheer Abbas joined Sadiq and both played with great ease and fluency. Sadiq reached his fifty off just 58 balls, and Zaheer went even faster, getting to his half ton in only 50 deliveries. After Zaheer’s dismissal, Majid joined Sadiq and together they took Pakistan to 292/1 before stumps were drawn for the day. Sadiq had completed his maiden Test century and was unbeaten on 125 while Majid had progressed to 92. Sadiq fell for 137 the next morning with the team score at 323. Saeed Ahmed returned to resume his innings and made an attractive 50 in 73 deliveries before being dismissed. Majid was eventually out for a superb 158, which incidentally was his first Test century. Subsequent fifties from Mushtaq and Intikhab lifted Pakistan’s total to 574/8 declared, made in just 566 minutes. The debutant, Jeff Thomson, failed to make any impact despite his fearsome pace, conceding 100 runs without taking a wicket.

Trailing by 131 runs in the first innings Australia were all out for 425 in their second knock. Their score was built around a 233 run 2nd wicket partnership between Paul Sheehan and John Benaud, who both scored centuries, with 127 and 142 runs respectively. Greg Chappell also chipped in with a rapidly made 62.

Pakistan’s victory target was 293. They lost both their openers, Sadiq and Saeed, cheaply for just 15. Zaheer and Majid rallied the side, adding 65 runs for the 3rd wicket. They both fell within 3 runs of each other, with Zaheer being run out for the second time in the match. Another needless run-out, saw the end of Mushtaq with Pakistan’s total on 128. Asif Iqbal and Intikhab offered some resistance with 37 and 48 runs respectively, but the innings folded with the team score on 200, giving Australia a 92 run victory. Out of the 33 wickets that fell in this match 7 were through run-outs, the highest number ever in Test cricket history.

Pakistan vs England, Headingley, Leeds ... 4th August - 8th
August 2006

Pakistan’s toured England in the summer of 2006. The 3rd Test of the series was played at Headingley, Leeds. England won the toss and elected to bat. On a placid batting surface they reached 347/6 by the end of the opening day. The highlight was a brisk, aggressive century by Kevin Pietersen in just 123 deliveries. Though he had to retire hurt when he was on 104, he resumed his innings on the 2nd day, steering England to a final total of 515. Ian Bell was the other centurion in this innings with a patient knock of 119. Umar Gul was Pakistan’s most successful bowler, taking 5 wickets for 123.

In reply Pakistan lost both their openers, Taufeeq Umar and Salman Butt cheaply with just 36 runs on the board. Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf steadied the innings with a classical display of elegant, attractive stroke play and sound defence, to take their team to 202/2 by the end of the second day’s play. Their partnership continued to flourish on the third morning and was finally broken with Pakistan’s score at 399, when Yousuf gloved a short delivery to the keeper. He had scored 192 and his stand with Younis was worth 363. Yousuf was in the middle of a golden year, in which he would score 1788 runs and establish a new world record for the highest number of runs made in a calendar year. His 192 was one of four scores of 190 and above in this halcyon year.

Younis made 173, before a needless run-out, when he attempted a sharp single after a quiet stroke to mid wicket. Pakistan’s innings ended on 538, giving them a small first innings lead of 23.

A solid opening partnership of 158 between Trescothick and the English captain Andrew Strauss, who made 116, enabled England to reach 345 all out in their second innings, leaving Pakistan a target of 323 in order to win. Pakistan began steadily and reached their fifty for the loss of just one wicket. A typical Pakistani batting collapse then followed, and 52/1 soon became 84/5 by the lunch interval on the final day. Amongst these wickets was that of Mohammad Yousuf, who called for a single after Younis had just dabbed the ball down behind square. It was a disastrous piece of judgement, and Collingwood’s underarm sling at the wicket caught Yousuf well short of the crease. Pakistan lasted for less than 20 overs after lunch, being dismissed for a paltry total of 155, thus losing the Test by 167 runs, despite accumulating a score of over 500 runs in their first innings. Younis with 41 and Inzamam with 37 were the only batsmen to offer any resistance in Pakistan’s second knock.

The 363 run partnership between Younis and Yousuf, for the 3rd wicket in Pakistan’s first innings represents the highest ever partnership for any wicket in a losing cause in a Test match.

Pakistan vs England, The Oval, London ... 17th August - 21st August 2006

The 4th Test of the 2006 series was played at The Oval. It would witness events that had never been seen before in the previous 1813 Tests that had been played since Test cricket began 129 years prior to this match.

Pakistan won the toss and put England in to bat. They bundled out the home side for just 173 runs, with Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul both taking 4 wickets each. Pakistan replied with a mammoth score of 504, the centerpiece being another sublime century from Yousuf who made 128, and scores of 95 and 91 respectively from the two openers, Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat. Faisal Iqbal also chipped in with an unbeaten 58 and Pakistan’s first innings lead was 331 runs.

After the early loss of Trescothick, who was incidentally playing in his last Test match, England made steady progress in their second innings through Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, reaching 78/1 from 18 overs by the close of play on the 3rd day. In the very first over of the 4th day, Cook popped a catch to silly point off the bowling of Danish Kaneria, but the umpire Billy Doctrove turned down the appeal. Cook received a second life when he was bowled off a no-ball from Kaneria when his score was 40. Kaneria also trapped Strauss lbw on the back foot after a well played 54. Pietersen joined Cook, avoided a king pair, and then took the attack to the Pakistan bowlers, playing a succession of sweetly struck strokes to reach his 50 from just 57 deliveries. He was, however, lucky that Kamran Akmal couldn’t hold on to a nick behind the wickets off a Kaneria turner, when he was on just 15.

By mid afternoon the ball was reversing and resulted in Cook falling leg before wicket to Umar Gul for a combative 83. High drama now began to unfold. At 2.30 pm, at the end of the 56th over, with England’s score at 230/3, the umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove inspected the ball and concluded that it had been tampered with. They asked for the ball to be changed and simultaneously, without warning or discussing with the Pakistan team, imposed a five run penalty on the touring side. This was in clear violation of ICC rules which require that a player or team considered guilty of an offense should be forewarned before the imposition of any penalty. The Pakistani team was naturally upset at this slur of ball tampering.

Play resumed and Pietersen raced to 96 before, in his haste to reach three figures, he edged Umar Gul to the keeper. With the score at 298/4 an early tea was taken because of poor light. Pakistan’s captain Inzamam now decided to lodge a protest against the ball tampering accusation by delaying the restart of the match after the interval. While the two English batsmen went back onto the field on time, the Pakistan team stayed back in the pavilion. After a wait of about five minutes umpire Hair made his way to the Pakistan dressing room, where he was told by the Pakistan side that the players’ protest would continue for a few more minutes before they returned to the pitch to resume play. Hair, however, demanded an immediate return and threatened to award the game to England if Pakistan did not comply. When the Pakistan team did not re-emerge from the pavilion forthwith, the umpires took off the bails, walked off the ground and refused to reappear even after the Pakistani players were back on the field and ready to play. Pakistan were deemed to have forfeited the match and England were awarded a win. Pakistan had again lost despite a score of more than 500 in their first innings, albeit in questionable circumstances.

Negotiations between the chairman of the ECB, David Morgan and the head of the PCB, Sheharyar Khan ensued but to no avail. A packed Oval stadium waited in vain for a restart that never materialized. 12000 ticket holders for the final day were also left to rue their misfortune. This was the first instance in the history of Test cricket that a team was penalized for ball tampering and also the first occasion on which a Test match was declared to have been forfeited.

As a postscript, Pakistan was cleared of the charge of ball tampering due to lack of any supporting evidence against them. Two years later, in July 2008, the ICC changed the match result to an ‘abandonment’. However, just six months later, in January 2009, the ICC reversed its own amendment and reverted back to the original decision of England winning by forfeiture. In November 2006, the ICC also removed Darrel Hair from its elite umpires list, saying that they had lost confidence in the umpire.

When even 500 wasn’t enough

Pakistan vs England, Rawalpindi ...
1st December - 5th December 2022

In 2022, England toured Pakistan after a hiatus of 17 years. The 1st Test which was played in Rawalpindi stirred much debate and created many records. England won the toss and decided to bat. They immediately deployed their new brand of cricket nicknamed “Bazball”, a liberated mindset, where a team plays fearless, attacking cricket, irrespective of the conditions of the ground or the state of the match.

They raced to a record breaking 174 without loss by the lunch interval. Both the openers, Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett, soon reached their centuries after lunch and also put up the fastest double century opening stand in Test history, reaching the 200 mark in just 30.1 overs. By the close of play England were 506/4, having broken the previous record of 494/6 by Australia vs South Africa in 1910, for the most runs gathered on the opening day of a Test. A record number of four batsmen had scored centuries on this first day, the most ever in a single day of Test play. Apart from the openers, the other centurions were Ollie Pope and Harry Brook.

England were bowled out for 657, shortly before lunch on the 2nd day. Pakistan also responded confidently and were 181/0 at the end of the second day’s cricket. The opening stand produced 245 runs before it was broken and both Abdullah Shafiq and Imam-ul-Haq reached their individual hundreds, scoring 114 and 121 respectively. This was the first time in Test cricket history that both openers, from each side got centuries in the first innings. It was also the first occasion on which 2 double century opening stands were made in the same Test. Pakistan were finally dismissed for 579 on the fourth morning, leaving England with a first innings lead of 78. Babar Azam was Pakistan’s third centurion with 136.

England attacked even more avidly in their second knock. They were 46/0 from 7 overs at lunch. Accelerating further they accumulated an incredible 218 runs between lunch and tea, off just 28.5 overs at a run rate of 7.65 per over. A bold declaration at tea by the English captain, Ben Stokes, with the tourists on 264/7, left Pakistan a victory target of 343 runs in four sessions of play.

England snared Abdullah and Babar Azam early in Pakistan’s second innings, leaving them with an uphill task for victory. Steady, sensible batting from Imam-ul-Haq, Saud Shakil, Mohammad Rizwan and Azhar Ali helped Pakistan to 257/5 by tea on the last day. They needed 86 runs in the final session for victory, with Azhar Ali on 37 and Salman Agha on 30, at the crease.

England were getting the ball to reverse, and after tea, Salman Agha was trapped leg before off an inswinger from Robinson before he could add to his score. In his next over, Robinson had Azhar Ali caught as well at leg slip as he tried to flick another inswinger off his hips. Anderson then got into the act with two quick wickets in one over dismissing Zahid Mahmood and Haris Rauf. Naseem Shah and Mohammad Ali resisted doggedly for the next half an hour, and with the light fading fast Stokes took the second new ball. The ploy worked as Naseem was pinned leg before by Leach. Pakistan were all out for 268 and England had won by 74 runs.

The match aggregate of 1768 was the 3rd highest ever in Test history, and the highest in a match that didn’t end in a draw. It was also the only Test with two 550 plus scores in the first innings to produce a result. England’s run rate of 6.5 runs per over in their first innings of 657 was the highest ever in a completed innings. They also became the first Test team to score at more than a run a ball in both innings. Their overall run rate of 6.73 was also the fastest across two innings of a Test.

Losing a Test after scoring over 500 runs in the first innings is a very traumatic experience. It is even more devastating emotionally when it happens in front of your home crowd , as has been the case in 7 instances in this shortlist of 18. It can be soul destroying when it happens in successive matches as Pakistan experienced on their 2006 tour of England.

Dr Salman Faridi is a senior surgeon, poet, sports aficionado and an avid reader with a private collection of over 7000 books.


When even 500 wasn’t enough