Top 20 Cricket Games Of All Time

International cricket has been around for a long time. 176 years, to be exact. So picking the top 20 matches from 7,762 cricket games, across three formats, is painstakingly hard. But therein lies the fun and why wouldn’t we explore? Here is the result of my attempt (in order of formats: Tests, ODIs, and T20Is).

Tests

20. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: West Indies vs Australia, Antigua (2003)

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As Chris Gayle and Devon Smith ― both naturally attacking batsmen ― walked off at stumps on day three, West Indies were 47 for nought after 22 overs. Their target? A world-record 418.

Batting first, both teams posted 240. And so, it was a straight shootout in the second half. The Aussies posted 417 on the back centuries from openers Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden. And three early wickets on day four put them in the driver’s seat. But their excellent middle order wouldn’t back down ― Brian Lara (60), and Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (with centuries) scripted a historic win.

19. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: England vs Australia, The Oval (1882)

The Ashes is, perhaps, the greatest rivalry in all of team sport. And all of it began in a Test match that lasted less than nine hours at The Oval in 1882. Winning the toss and batting first, the Aussies were blown away for just 63 ― only to return the compliment by bowling the home side out for 101. The Aussies fared almost twice as better, posting 122 the second time around. But a second seven-wicket match haul from Frederick Spofforth gave the visitors a seven-run win!

The Sporting Times stated, sarcastically of course, that English cricket had died, with their body would be cremated and the ashes taken back to Australia. And that, kids, is how it all began.

18. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, Sharjah (2014)

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Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman had done wonders to trigger a Sri Lankan collapse that saw them lose five for 25. But as lunch was taken, Pakistan needed 302 runs in two sessions to level the series. Ridiculous! And that’s exactly what followed. The openers sure started well, and the middle order chipped in just fine. But a sparkling century from Azhar Ali, and a quickfire 68 from skipper Misbah-ul-Haq saw Pakistan actually pull it off in 57.3 overs. A run-rate of 5.25 per over. Ridiculous indeed!

17. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: Australia vs West Indies, Adelaide Oval (1993)

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After fine bowling performances from Merv Hughes (5/64) and Sir Curtly Ambrose (6/74), a combined bowling effort from the visitors ended the Windies’ second innings at 146. Only, the hosts’ dealt a heavier blow in return. Disciplined bowling saw the visitors down and out at 102 for eight, when Tim May joined Justin Langer. May kept going after Langer fell for 54. But when Craig McDermott, the last man, was nicked off by Courtney Walsh, the Windies had clinched it at last. The Aussies… they were only a run away.

16. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: India vs Australia, Chennai (1986)

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Despite a sparkling 119 from Kapil Dev, India conceded a massive first innings lead of 177 runs to Australia’s 574. And eager to push for a victory, the visitors declared at 170 for five, giving India one day to chase down 348. Sunil Gavaskar’s 90 led the way, with all of the top eight, except Dev, chipping in with cameos. But Australian spin duo, Greg Matthews and Ray Bright, came up big. Well, almost. When Matthews trapped last man Maninder Singh in front, it gave us just the second tied match in the Test history.

15. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: England vs Australia, Headingley (1981)

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Somebody should just rename this Test match after Sir Ian Botham. Maybe they already have. At 135 for seven in England’s second innings, the decision to enforce the follow-on seemed spot on too. Then, a breathtaking 149 from 148 balls from Botham turned the match on its head. Even then, the Aussies only needed 130 to seal the win. Only this time, Bob Willis came good. He produced career-best figures of eight for 43 to beat the Aussies by 19 runs. Did you know that England themselves had packed their bags, ready to check out of their hotel after the fourth day?

14. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: India vs Australia, Kolkata (2001)

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After being humiliated in Mumbai and looking well on course for a repeat, what India produced at the Eden Gardens is the stuff fairytales are made of. Following on, with a 274-run deficit, VVS Laxman led India’s charge. Rahul Dravid joined him in the middle and together, they put on 376 for the fifth wicket. Laxman and Dravid made 281 and 180 respectively. Set a target of 384 with a little over two sessions remaining, the Aussies couldn’t even salvage a draw. Bundled out for 212, they handed India a 171-run win ― Harbhajan Singh being the key destroyer.

13. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: England vs Australia, Birmingham (2005)

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With a 99-run first innings lead, and no Glenn McGrath to face, England could’ve seen the game through with ease. But there was no way around Shane Warne, whose six for 46 left the Aussies with a chance ― a target of 282 to win. But the English bowlers ― Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff in particular ― made up for the failure of the batsmen, reducing Australia to 175/8. Then, another twist followed as the lower order started ticking the runs over. But their rearguard fell agonisingly short at 279.

12. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: Australia vs West Indies, Brisbane (1960)

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The greatest Test match of all-time was a match of two halves. At the end of a high-scoring first innings from both sides, it was advantage Australia by 52 runs. The visitors looked steady at 210 for four in the second bout, before a minor collapse saw them bundled out for 284. All chances of an Australian seemed lost after Wes Hall’s initial burst had them on the ropes at 92 for six. Skipper Richie Benaud, then, staged a recovery in a 134-run partnership along with Alan Davidson. But, in yet another twist, a flurry of wickets ― including two run outs ― the Aussies were all out for 232. They needed 233 to win.

ODIs

11. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: Sri Lanka vs Australia, Melbourne (2010)

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Either side of a 54-run stand between Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, the visitors struggled en route their target of 240. By the time they’d huffed and puffed to 107, they had already lost eight wickets.

Who knew Lasith Malinga could bat! He and a young Angelo Mathews (77 not out) added a record 132 runs for the ninth wicket. Malinga ran himself out with one run to win. Just enough for the last batsman, Muttiah Muralitharan, to walk in and seal the win with a boundary.

10. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: India vs England, Lord’s (2002)

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India got off to a flyer ― 106 in only 14.2 overs ― in their chase of 326 in the final of the NatWest Series. But a middle-order collapse later, they were reduced to 146 for five. The fate of the final was in the hands of two youngsters, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif. The duo added 121 before Yuvraj fell. Kaif added another 47 with Harbhajan Singh. With Andrew Flintoff running in for the final over, India needed just two more. And they scraped through on overthrows. A famous victory followed by an iconic celebration from the Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly.

9. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: New Zealand vs Australia, Hamilton (2007)

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Sure, they’d already won the series. But you wouldn’t tell that with the way the Kiwis went for the win at 41 for four, chasing 347. A quick half-century from Peter Fulton got them on their way, before Craig McMillan joined Brendon McCullum, and smashed a 67-ball ton. When he fell for 117, the Kiwis needed another 66 runs off 52 balls. Two more wickets fell before a 15-ball 28 from Mark Gillespie got the hosts to the brink. McCullum hit a six off the first ball of the final over, before another boundary in the third to seal it with a wicket let.

8. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: Pakistan vs India, Sharjah (1986)

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The inaugural edition of the Austral-Asia Cup saw archrivals India and Pakistan face off in the final. Batting first, India posted 246, courtesy half-centuries from Kris Srikkanth, Sunil Gavaskar, and Dilip Vengsarkar. At 61 for three, Javed Miandad found company in Saleem Malik and Abdul Qadir to take the Pakistanis close to the finish line. India pulled things back with a couple of late wickets. And then came the grand finale! In the final ball off the game, Pakistan needed four to win. Chetan Sharma bowled a low full toss, which Miandad sent over the ropes to clinch a thriller. The celebration that followed remained an iconic image for the sport.

7. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: Australia vs South Africa, Edgbaston (1999)

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Though wickets fell around him, eventual Player of the Tournament, Lance Klusener held firm. With successive boundaries, the scores were tied at 213, with four balls remaining.

Steve Waugh brought the field up. Then, a dot ball. A near run out. Then, the fourth ball. Klusener mishits a shot and calls for a risky run. But Allan Donald didn’t respond. By the time he did, the Aussies pulled off an easy run out at the striker’s end. And with a better head-to-head record having won their earlier encounter in the same tournament, it was the Aussies who went through to the final.

6. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: South Africa vs Australia, Johannesburg (2006)

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Chasing a mammoth 434, Boeta Dippenaar fell first. Skipper Graeme Smith followed… another 187-run partnership later, having scored a 55-ball 90 himself. Gibbs went next, but not before going berserk: 175 runs in only 111 balls. But South Africa still needed 136 runs from 109 balls. Mark Boucher kept plodding along, before Johan van der Wath scored 35 off 18 to clinch it… almost. Andrew Hall hit a four and got out, before Boucher hit a four off the fifth ball to seal it.

Only a few hours prior had Australia become the first team ever to score more than 400 runs in an ODI match.

5. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: England vs New Zealand, Lord’s (2019)

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Chasing a modest 241, England needed 15 off the last over to win their maiden World Cup. The Kiwis needed two wickets to clinch their first as well. Two dots, and then a six followed, before the game-changing fourth ball. Looking for two, Guptill’s throw deflected off a diving Stokes’ bat and went for four more. England managed to tie the match from there. A tied Super Over too meant that England were crowned World Champions because they had scored more boundaries in the 50 overs.

T20Is

4. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: Netherlands v Ireland, Sylhet (2014)

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For the Netherlands to qualify for the T20 World Cup in 2014, they needed to take down Ireland’s total of 190 in less than 14.1 overs.

And that’s why Stephan Myburg’s performance will go down in the history pages as one of the epic stories of all-time. The Dutchman smashed his way to a 17-ball 50, with batsmen around him chipping in as well. His onslaught was aptly carried on by Tom Cooper, who hit a 15-ball 45 to take his team over the line in just 13.5 overs.

3. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: Australia v Pakistan, Gros Islet (2010)

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Having posted 191, Pakistan looked all but certain to enter the final of the World Cup with the Aussies reeling at 139 for six in the 17th over. Until Mr. Cricket, Michael Hussey, walked in.

He played all of 24 balls that day. Hit six sixes and three fours. Scored 60 runs ― 23 off them coming in the last over. Australia won the game by three wickets and a ball to spare.

2. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: Sri Lanka vs West Indies, Colombo (2012)

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With the likes of Sunil Narine, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and so on, the West Indies were the outright favourites at the 2012 World Cup. But at 87 for five in the 16th over in the final, things looked dim. The stars hadn’t shown up.

Then, Marlon Samuels stepped in and played what is, arguably, his best T20 innings to-date. His 78, along with a quick 26 from Darren Sammy helped them post a respectable 137 for six.

As it turned out, it was more than enough. With Narine leading the charge, the Sri Lankans were bundled out for 101.

1. Top Cricket Games Of All Time: India vs Pakistan, Johannesburg (2007)

India-Pakistan encounters are always full of drama. But none more so than when the two rivals met in the final of the inaugural T20 World Cup. Having posted a tricky total of 157, the Indians bowled well to reduce Pakistan to 77 for six in the 12th over. Then, Misbah-ul-Haq turned up. With a fighting lower order, it seemed for all money that Pakistan would finally get one over on India at a World Cup match.

Six needed off four balls. One wicket in the bag. Misbah went for a cheeky scoop… which was his big mistake. S Sreesanth pouched it safely at short fine leg, and a billion Indians went wild.

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