Australia surprised everybody when they included Ashton Agar in the team before the first Test of the 2013 Ashes. How come a 19-year-old boy with the experience of just 10 first-class matches under his belt could be selected in the team facing a critical phase. Given the present performance of Australia, the team’s fans were not hoping much from the players, but Agar’s fireworks on just second day of his international career have revived their hopes.

[caption id="attachment_1838" align="alignright" width="225"]Although Agar could not make a century, he played a record innings as No. 11 player. (Photo: Getty Images) Although Agar could not make a century, he played a record innings as No. 11 player. (Photo: Getty Images)[/caption]

Surprisingly, Agar’s feat was not with the ball, but wit the ball. At a stage when Australia were 117 for nine and had come back to their senses after bowling out England on just 215 in the first innings, Agar made record partnership on the 10th wicket Phillip Hughes and also scored record 98 runs as the 11th player.

When the game was in full grasp of English bowlers and they took five wickets of the opponents within just five more runs, a 19-year-old player put in an unbelievable innings.

Agar’s innings was a combination of magnificent shots. Initially, Hughes was trying to play as much balls as possible to because England needed just one wicket to finish the visitors’ innings. But soon he realised that he was underrating Agar. The youngster had completed his fifty but there was much more left. The duo needed to salvage the work done by the team’s bowlers. And they did it and did it fabulously.

Both the players added 163-run partnership on the 10th wicket, making a world record. They broke the earlier record of 151-run partnership set by New Zealand’s Brian Hastings and Richard Collinge. Pakistan’s Azhar Mahmood and Mushtaq Ahmed also made a partnership of 151 runs on the last wicket in 1997. Now the joint record has been claimed by Australia.

Best last-wicket partnerships

Philip Hughes - Ashton AgarAustralia Aus163England Eng2013Nottingham
Brian Hastings - Richard CollingeNew Zealand NZ151Pakistan Pak1973Auckland
Azhar Mahmood - Mushtaq AhmedPakistan Pak143South Africa SA1997Rawalpindi
Denesh Ramdin - Tino BestWest Indies WI133England Eng2012Birmingham
Wasim Raja - Wasim BariPakistan Pak133West Indies WI1977Bridgetown

When Agar was just two runs from making a record century by an eleventh player, his innings met an anticlimax. In an attempt to play an uppish delivery by Stuart Broad to midwicket, he gave catch to Graeme Swann. Agar got an standing ovation from the spectators for his brilliant innings, studded with 12 fours and two sixes.

However, despite the misfortune, Agar’s was the biggest innings by an eleventh player. The record was earlier held by West Indies Tino Best, who scored 95 runs against England last year.

Best innings from no. 11 batsman

Ashton AgarAustralia Aus98England EngNottingham2013
Tino BestWest Indies WI95England EngBirmingham2012
Zaheer KhanIndia Ind75Bangladesh BanDhaka2004
Richard CollingeNew Zealand NZ68*Pakistan PakAuckland1973
Albert VoglerSouth Africa SA62*England EngCape Town1906

Hughes remained notout with 81 off 131, scoring nine fours. Both batsmen helped Australia reach 280, taking a 65-run lead over the hosts.

Let’s see how Australia utilise the brave innings of the ‘last warrior’. England also have chance to perform up to the mark in the second innings to avert any unexpected result.
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