Cricket is a game that is currently one of the most recognized and followed by billions of people worldwide. It is very evident that over the years, some teams have managed to establish supremacy in some of the other forms, while certain teams have emerged and are aspiring to reach the level of these teams someday.
When the competition between a highly recognized team like Australia vs a team that is still building like Canada takes place, there is only a minute possibility of Canada putting Australia to dust. However, the format in which they compete also plays an enormous role in the probability of the minnow teams or less recognized teams producing an upset.
And we have witnessed it in the past, haven't we? Be it Kenya's performance in the 2003 World Cup, Bangladesh knocking out India in 2007, Ireland ruining England's journey, and a few more.
These were results only the fewest of the few might have predicted or not even them. However, we still managed to witness such results right? It is these results that make these smaller teams an 'underdog' and when they manage to triumph against the big guns, it counts as an "upset".
All that being said, Cricwizz today presents to you some of the biggest upsets not in the limited-overs format but in the most traditional format of cricket, the Test Cricket.
When we measure upsets, it is arduous to judge which one was more difficult to execute, which team had stronger opponents, and various other factors.
To incorporate those points as a fair and noteworthy observation, what we can do is find out the "Upset Power" of the game as a whole.
The next question would be how is this calculated? Well, it's a combination of emphasizing the recent form of the opponents and also their strength in general.
It is also very important to know that the underdog teams are not fixated on some particular teams. Every game has its favorites and underdogs.
So the upset will have a high "Upset Power" when an underdog beats a favorite with a great recent form and performance that year, while the other underdog gets the same credit but less upset points when their opponent is strong but their recent form and records that year suggests otherwise.
Note: The quality of the underdogs is also compared when rating the upsets.
Let's now see Cricwizz's five biggest test upsets.
1) Zimbabwe vs Pakistan (2013)
It was Pakistan who visited Zimbabwe for a two-match Test series and as anticipated, Zimbabwe were vanquished quite convincingly by Pakistan. When the majority of the home well-wishers had lost hope, Zimbabwe produced a test match that is still etched in the hearts of the ones who witnessed it that time.
Zimbabwe were ninth in the ICC rankings at that time and Pakistan didn't seem to be intimidated by the hosts at all. However, what unfolded next was something they would have a hard time recollecting.
Zimbabwe put their heart and soul on their sleeves and stepped out to fight with everything they had, registering a total of 294 in the first innings. The score was a result of contributions from renowned and experienced players from the Zimbabwe unit, Brendan Taylor (51) and Hamilton Masakadza (75).
In the bowling department too, Zimbabwe came out with flying colors, restricting Pakistan to 230, with a scintillating spell by Brian Vitori, who picked 5-61. However, the favorites were the favorites for a reason. Pakistan managed to cause a Zimbabwean collapse at just 199, credit to an integral fifer by Rahat Ali.
Pakistan were chasing 264, but their story remained the same as they failed to hold on to the crease. The Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq stood there like a lone warrior, scoring an unbeaten 79, while the Pakistan batting order kept trembling.
In the end, Zimbabwe managed a historic win, beating Pakistan by 24 runs, courtesy of a second innings masterclass by Tendai Chatara (5-61) as the Harare stadium rejoiced in glory.
2) Sri Lanka vs South Africa (2019)
Sri Lanka were touring South Africa and it was the first Test at Durban. However, no one would've expected a test match that will have such an extraordinary conclusion.
The visitors won the toss and elected to field first. The hosts put up a score of 235, with Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock playing significant innings, scoring 47 and 80 respectively, while the skipper, Faf du Plessis scored 35.
For the Lankans, Vishwa Fernando was the pick of the bowlers, managing four scalps, with Kasun Rajitha picking up three. It was Sri Lanka's time to bat and an inexperienced Sri Lanka side did what the hosts would've wanted.
Sri Lanka were summed up for 191, with only the skipper Dimuth Karunaratne (30) and Kusal Perera (51) contributing majorly to the total.
Dale Steyn was the most successful bowler in the innings with four wickets to his name. Consequently, South Africa were out to bat again and this time slightly bettered their performance, scoring 259. Du Plessis scored a phenomenal 90, while he was supported by De Kock on the other end as he scored 55. Lasith Embuldeniya and Vishwa Fernando picked five and four wickets respectively.
Sri Lanka were handed a target of 304 runs and were 5/110. However, Kusal Perera and Dhananjaya de Silva built an iconic 96-run stand before de Silva got out on 48 by Keshav Maharaj.
Sri Lanka were 6/206 and wickets commenced falling from the other end again, with Perera fighting from the other.
After almost six overs from De Silva's wicket, Sri Lanka were reduced to 9/226 but it was Kusal Perera who didn't give up, put his focus and determination together, and worked towards what can be called one of the most iconic chases in test cricket history.
Perera scored 153* from 200 balls, took Sri Lanka over the line and also produced one of the finest upsets in tests.
3) Bangladesh vs England (2016)
Another upset that didn't look possible until the end, the hosts Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat first. Bangladesh registered 220 on the board, courtesy of Tamim Iqbal, who scored 104, followed by Mominul Haque's 66. Moeen Ali was England's pick of the bowlers as his fifer played a huge role in restricting Bangladesh under 250.
In reply, England scored 244, with only Joe Root, Chris Woakes, and Adil Rashid contributing heavily with 56, 46, and 44 respectively.
For Bangladesh, the 19-year-old Mehidy Hasan was on fire as he picked six wickets, taking down the English batting single-handedly. Bangladesh then put 296 runs on the board, a much better performance but that didn't seem enough for a solid English batting. Imrul Kayes scored 78.
England had a target of 273 to chase and were without a loss until their first 100 runs. What happened next could be called a miracle or Bangladesh's persisting efforts and never-say-die attitude.
After Alastair Cook and Ben Duckett departed for 59 and 56 respectively, neither of the England batsmen contrived to stay at the crease. Only Ben Stokes put 25 runs on the board as a 19-year-old produced one of the most exhilarating displays as England were all out at 164.
The fact that they were 0/100 and marching strong towards a win, Bangladesh's efforts and commitments are commendable and they reaped what they fought for so brilliantly, producing another great upset.
4) Bangladesh vs Afghanistan (2019)
The match between these two nations also saw a result that wasn't expected before. Afghanistan were touring Bangladesh, and it was the visitors who won the toss and elected to bat first.
Afghanistan were spot on with their decision as they fired 342 runs in the first innings, courtesy of a ton from Rahmat Shah (102), and Asghar Afghan, who scored 92. The skipper Rashid Khan also scored 51, with Afsar Zazai's vital contribution of 41.
In response to that, Bangladesh couldn't manage more than 205. Mominul Haque scored 52, while Mosaddek Hossain stayed unbeaten with his 48. The Aghan skipper was once again impressive with his 5/55, as Afghanistan prepared to bat again.
Bangladesh did a better job this time, restricting Afghanistan for 260, with Ibrahim Zadran's 87, Asghar Afghan's 50, and Afsar Zazai's 48. The hosts had a mammoth total of 398 to chase and they couldn't handle the pressure. That lead to a collapse of the home side for just 173, with Rashid Khan picking six wickets.
Afghanistan produced an upset considering the limited experience they have compared to Bangladesh in test cricket and also beating them in their backyard.
5) Bangladesh vs West Indies (2009)
This upset could've been above the previous one but some factors allowed the Afghanistan triumph to be rated higher.
The fact that West Indies fielded a second-string squad is why this upset is rated the lowest. The West Indies Cricket Board had a fallout with the West Indies' Player Association that eventually led to the first team players going on a strike.
Nine out of the 15 players fielded had never been in a Test match before. Bangladesh batted first and scored 238. The hosts replied strongly with a total of 307, with debutant Omar Phillips scoring a fabulous 94.
However, the visitors had other plans as they surpassed West Indies' total, scoring 345, courtesy of a monstrous knock by Tamim Iqbal (128) that helped Bangladesh Post a target of 277 for West Indies.
Mahmudullah emerged as the star of the match after his fifer turned the game in their favor, and Bangladesh registered their first-ever overseas Test victory.
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