From Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene to Bill Ponsford and Donald Bradman, we take a closer look at the top five partnerships in the history of Test cricket.

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The importance of partnerships in Test cricket cannot be overstated. A good partnership helps a team set up a solid foundation to build from and affords the rest of those who follow the freedom to express themselves against the bowlers. Lengthy partnerships are also fundamental when it comes to teams looking to save a Test match while the opposition goes in for the kill.

With that in mind, we have a look at the top five partnerships in the history of Test cricket.

Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene – 624

After bundling out South Africa for 169 in the first innings of the first Test of the Proteas’ 2006 tour, Sri Lanka found themselves on the backfoot momentarily following the dismissal of Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga early on. However, what followed was the coming together of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene at the crease to put on a record 624-run stand – the highest in the history of Test cricket.

South Africa’s bowlers were made to toil for days by Sangakkara, who scored 287, and Man of the Match Jayawardene, who made 374. The Sri Lankans eventually declared after putting 756 runs on the scoreboard and went on to win the Test comfortably by an innings and 153 runs.  

Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama – 576

A pure run-fest if there ever was one, the first Test during India’s tour of Sri Lanka in 1997 won’t be remembered fondly by the bowlers of either side. One reason why this match is still spoken of in cricketing quarters is Sanath Jayasuriya’s 576-run stand with Roshan Mahanama. After Navjot Sidhu, Mohammad Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar had all scored centuries to help India declare with 537 runs on the board, it was Sri Lanka’s batsmen’s turn to pile the misery on India’s bowlers. And that’s exactly what Jayasuriya and Mahanama did as the hosts went on to post a record 952 runs in their first innings.

Man of the Match Jayasuriya scored 340 at the top of the order and Mahanama was dismissed after making 225. Needless to say, the match ended in a draw.

Andrew Jones and Martin Crowe – 467

The first Test during Sri Lanka’s tour of New Zealand in 1991 is one that most Kiwis will remember fondly. After a below-par effort in the first innings by the hosts saw them just manage to score 174, Sri Lanka looked like they were in the driver’s seat after they replied with 497 runs in their first innings. With the pressure now firmly on the Kiwis, Andrew Jones and the legendary Martin Crowe rose to the occasions to help dig their team out of a hole. While Crowe used his peerless stroke-making ability to keep the scoreboard ticking, Jones’ gritty technique complemented his partner at the other end perfectly. Together they put on 467 runs, which was a new record partnership in Tests at the time. Jones scored 186 and Crowe made 299 as he fell agonizingly short of a triple ton but helped New Zealand draw the match.

Bill Ponsford and Sir Donald Bradman – 451

The fifth and final Test of a five-match series between age-old rivals Australia and England in 1934, both teams had it all to play for with the series tied at 1-1 heading into the decider. Australia won the toss, deciding to bat first and there was no looking back after that. An early wicket brought Sir Donald Bradman to the middle to join opener Bill Ponsford and the duo soon took control by putting on a 451-run stand, which is still the highest partnership by two Australian batsmen.

Ponsford scored 266 before being dismissed, while Bradman scored 244 as Australia put 701 runs on the scoreboard in the first innings. Bradman scored 77 in the second innings as well to emphatically announce his return to form following a lull compared to his lofty standards. Australia eventually won the match by 562 runs.

Mudassar Nazar and Javed Miandad – 451

The fourth of a six-match series between arch-rivals in 1983, the tourists India had to beat hosts Pakistan to stay alive. However, Pakistan’s Mudassar Nazar and Javed Miandad had other ideas as the duo put India’s bowlers to the sword with exquisite stroke-play. They dominated the Indian bowlers, with Nazar scoring 231 and Miandad remaining unbeaten on 280. They put on 451 runs together for the team in each other’s company. Pakistan finally declared after making 581 and bowled out India for 189 in the first innings and 273 in the second to win the Test by 119 runs and seal the series. Unsurprisingly, Miandad picked up the Man of the Match award for his superb knock.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Sanka Vidanagama