Most Wickets in a Single Day of a 21st Century Test Match

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India Bowls Out South Africa for 55 Runs in First Innings

Test cricket’s charm lies in its unpredictable nature; one day, a team might withstand an entire day without losing a wicket, while on another day, wickets rain down like a sudden storm. The dynamics often hinge on the pitch conditions, sometimes favoring bowlers exceptionally or due to extraordinary performances by the bowlers themselves.

In the Second Test in Cape Town between South Africa and India, cricket aficionados witnessed an extraordinary occurrence. On the very first day, over half of the match had concluded, with more than 20 wickets falling—marking it as a truly bizarre day in the realm of Test cricket. With four days remaining, the unpredictability of the game was palpable. 

This peculiar scenario is not isolated; the 21st century has witnessed several instances of around double dozens of wickets tumbling in a single day. Let’s delve into the top 5 instances where the highest number of wickets fell during a day in Test matches of this century.

#5 New Zealand vs India, Hamilton, 2002 (22 wkts on Day 3)

The iconic 2002 Hamilton test match between the Blackcaps and India unfolded with dramatic twists. Rain marred Day 1, and Day 2 saw heavy interruptions, leaving India at a precarious 92/8.

Day 3 intensified the drama as India, starting at 92/8, crumbled to 99 all out. Shane Bond and Daryl Tuffey impressed with four wickets each. In response, the Blackcaps faltered while batting, being all out for just 94 runs as India denied them the first-innings advantage. Indian pacer Zaheer Khan clinched a five-wicket haul, leaving India with a slim 5-run lead.

Beginning their second innings with hopes of control, India stumbled to 154 all out, setting the Kiwis a target of 160. Rahul Dravid’s 39 stood out, but Tuffey and Jacob Oram claimed four wickets each for the Blackcaps. The Kiwi openers remained unbeaten at stumps, surviving the last 15 overs on Day 3. With a total of 22 wickets falling on Day 3, the hosts eventually clinched victory on Day 4 by 4 wickets.

#4 Sri Lanka vs England, Colombo, 2001 (22 wkts on Day 3)

England’s historic series win over hosts Sri Lanka at Colombo’s series decider test match in 2001 witnessed a gripping turn of events. At the outset of Day 3, England trailed Sri Lanka’s first innings by 66 runs, starting at 175/4 with Graham Thorpe and Michael Vaughan at the crease.

Ashley Giles took six wickets in total in the series decider against Sri Lanka

Vaughan departed early without adding to his overnight score, leaving Thorpe to exhibit unwavering resilience, crafting an unbeaten 113. Despite Thorpe’s efforts, England succumbed to all out for 249, Chaminda Vaas claiming 6 crucial wickets to restrict the lead to just 8 runs. While the Lankan bowlers excelled, the second innings saw their batsmen flounder, collapsing for a mere 81 runs in 28.1 overs, with Ashley Giles impressively taking 4 wickets. 

With a target of 74 runs, England initially appeared poised for an easy victory. However, the hosts made them toil for every run. England eventually chased down the target in 24.3 overs but lost 6 wickets along the way, as Sanath Jayasuriya accounted for 4 dismissals. This whirlwind match, culminating in just 3 days, witnessed an astonishing 22 wickets falling on a single day.

#3 South Africa vs Australia, Cape Town, 2011 (23 wkts on Day 2)

During Australia’s 2011 tour to South Africa, the two-test series reached a fervent peak, culminating in a 1-1 draw. The First Test at Cape Town witnessed a remarkable turn of events on Day 2, where 23 wickets tumbled. At the close of Day 1, Australia stood at 214/8, with Captain Michael Clarke and Peter Siddle, not out on 107 and 0.

Australia appeared set for victory with a 188-run lead. However, a spectacular bowling display by the Proteas, led by debutant Vernon Philander’s five-wicket haul, saw the visitors collapse, adding just 47 runs.

Facing a target of 236, South Africa took control on Day 2, concluding with a promising 81/1. Day 3 saw a magnificent century partnership between Smith and Hashim Amla, guiding the hosts to a comfortable chase and securing a memorable victory.

#2 South Africa vs India, Cape Town, 2024 (23 wkts on Day 1)

Siraj Achieves Career-Best Innings Figures of 6/15 Against the Proteas

The New Year Test at Cape Town had a compelling Day 1, seeing an extraordinary 23 wickets tumble, with Proteas choosing to bat after winning the toss.

The hosts faced a relentless assault from Indian pacers, notably Mohammed Siraj, who claimed six wickets in a remarkable 9-over spell. The host team was bundled out for a mere 55 runs in the first session, with Jasprit Bumrah and Mukesh Kumar contributing two wickets each.

Notwithstanding a solid performance by India with the bat, reaching 111/4 before tea, the match took a dramatic turn in the post-tea session when India’s lead was 98. Lungi Ngidi’s triple-wicket maiden over in the 34th over disrupted India’s momentum, followed by another triple-wicket maiden over from Kagiso Rabada. India’s innings collapsed from 153/4 to 153/10, setting an unfortunate record of losing six wickets without adding any runs.

As the Proteas got a chance to bat again on the same day, Indian bowlers maintained their dominance. Mukesh Kumar dismissed Captain Dean Elgar and Tony de Zorzi, while Jasprit Bumrah claimed the wicket of Tristan Stubbs in Proteas’ second innings. By the end of Day 1, Proteas found themselves trailing by 36 runs with a score of 62/3.

#1 India vs Afghanistan, Bengaluru, 2018 (24 wkts on Day 2)

In their inaugural international test match in 2018 at Bengaluru, Afghanistan faced a formidable challenge against India due to a lack of experience in the format. Hosts India dominated on Day 1 after winning the toss, concluding at 347/6.

On Day 2, India added 127 runs before Afghanistan dismissed the last four wickets, limiting India to 474. Afghanistan struggled in their first innings, posting 109 runs in 27.5 overs. India’s veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin claimed 4 wickets, while Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma secured 2 each.

India, with a 365-run lead, enforced the follow-on. Despite playing more overs in the second innings, Afghanistan scored fewer runs, lasting 38.4 overs and posting only 103. The test match concluded in just two days, with India winning by the heavy margin of 262 runs. 

Notably, 24 wickets fell on Day 2, marking the highest in a single day of a 21st-century test match.