5 Highest Scores by Openers in a successful run-chase in Tests

Pakistan's Abdullah Shafique etched his name in the history books recently

Pakistani opener Abdullah Shafique’s record-breaking unbeaten knock of 160 runs during the first Test against Sri Lanka helped his side register a historic victory in Galle. It was the highest successful chase at the venue, as the Green Army bettered Sri Lanka’s total of 344 runs, with 4 wickets in hand.

Apart from the collective glory, Shafique’s effort ensured that he also notched some individual accolades as his herculean effort landed him an in an illustrious list of batsmen.

The 22-year-old from Sialkot joined the likes of West Indies legend Gordon Greenidge, and South Africa’s Graeme Smith among other openers, who recorded the highest scores in a winning cause, while chasing, in Test cricket history.

That being said, we decided to compile a list of the five highest individual scores by openers in a successful Test chase. Read on to know more. 

#5 Graeme Smith – 154* vs England, 2008

Graeme Smith’s 154*-run effort helped South Africa beat England in their own den

Graeme Smith’s 154*-run effort helped South Africa beat England in their own den

Coming into the Third Test of their tour of England, South Africa’s remarkable run of 10 years without a defeat on the road had only just started, but they were eyeing a series win on English soil, where they had last tasted victory, back in 1965.

Skipper Graeme Smith produced a masterclass, one for the ages, as the skipper led from the front. By the end of play on Day 3, England had scored 297/6, courtesy of Paul Collingwood’s century, but the Englishman’s effort would be eclipsed on Day 4 in such a manner, that the match would end before the fifth day.

Smith played an unbeaten 154-run inning, laced with 17 boundaries as he helped chase down the required 281-run target. Such was the South African’s sheer class, that his knock was included in Widen’s Test innings of the 2000s, at the number four slot.

#4 Abdullah Shafique – 160* vs Sri Lanka, 2022

Pakistan faced off against Sri Lanka in the first Test in Galle, and the match would prove to be an instant classic. The hosts batting first, scored 222 runs, but they were able to bowl out the visitors for 218 runs.

The Men in Green were reduced to 85/7 when captain Babar Azam decided to take matters into his own hands. He scored a brilliant century to keep his side in the match. Subsequently, Sri Lanka gave Pakistan a target of 344, and Abdullah Shafique helped his side scale the huge staggering total.

The 22-year-old remained unbeaten at 160 runs after playing 408 balls, having recorded 7 boundaries and a solitary maximum.

#3 Joe Darling – 160 vs England, 1898

During the Ashes in 1897/98, Joe Darling became the fastest Australian to score a hundred in the Ashes. He notched his ton in just 91 minutes to help pull off a superb victory over England.

While Darling would later have his record overtaken by Adam Gilchrist and Gilbert Jessop, he remains third in the list, level with Travis Head. He is also the third highest scoring opener in a successful Test chase, sharing the honours with Abdullah Shafique.

Joe Darling’s 160 came in the fifth and final match of the series, with the Aussies taking a series lead 3-1 after losing the first game. In the dead rubber, Darling kept his team in the game, despite the fact that they were reduced to 40/2. His inning was laced with 30 boundaries as Australia claimed the series 4-1.

#2 Arthur Morris – 182 vs England, 1948

Arthur Morris did the unthinkable back in 1947/48 when he outscored the legendary Don Bradman in the five-match series against England. Morris racked up a tally of 696 runs at an average of 87, while Bradman could only muster up 508 runs at nearly 72, but he fell short by 188 runs.

It was a massive achievement back then, however, in the fourth Test of the same series, Morris would go on to do another unthinkable feat. He played arguably the best knock of his career in Headingley.

Australia needed a massive 404 runs to win in the last innings, and Morris scored 182 runs while stitching together a 301-run stand with Bradman for the second wicket. That would propel the Aussies to a memorable seven-wicket victory, as Bradman remained unbeaten at 173.

#1 Gordon Greenidge – 214* vs England, 1984

Gordon Greenidge is the highest-scoring opener in a successful Test chase

Gordon Greenidge is the highest-scoring opener in a successful Test chase

Arguably one of the most dominant performances from an opener in the history of the purest format, West Indies legend Gordon Greenidge etched his name in the cricketing folklore during the second Test against England at Lord’s in July 1984.

The first innings belonged to Ian Botham, who became the first Englishman to take 8 wickets in an innings against the Caribbean side in England. Having scored 286 in their first innings, the Three Lions restricted West Indies to a total of 245.

Allan Lamb’s 110-run effort, combined with Botham’s 81-run knock helped England take a 341-run lead at the second bite of the cherry but Greenidge make a mockery of the mammoth total.

During his surreal knock of 214 runs in 242 balls, the Windies great struck 29 fours and two sixes at a strike rate of 88.42 to lead his side over the line. To date, it remains the highest individual score by an opener in a successful Test chase.