It is funny how the record of the fastest fifty in Test cricket (in terms of balls faced) is owned by someone who was famously known as Mr ‘Tuk Tuk.’ You guessed it correct; the record belongs to Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s former Test captain who won the Test mace in 2016.
The format is called Test Cricket because it ‘tests’ batsmen’s grit, resilience, patience, and technique. Generally, it involves a batter playing as many deliveries as he can, sometimes to survive through tough batting conditions, and other times to tire out opposition and then to capitalize on it.
Sometimes, however, the match situation requires players to bat as aggressively as possible to pile up maximum runs in a lesser number of balls before declaring the innings. Such was the situation when the former Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq scored the fastest 21-ball Test fifty against Australia in 2014.
Fun Fact: Two of the top five fastest fifties in Test cricket belong to Pakistani batsmen. What is even funnier is that Misbah ranks above Shahid Khan Afridi in this regard.
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Here is a roundup of the top five fastest Test fifties:
Table of Contents
1 – Misbah-ul-Haq (21 balls)
It was a fine morning in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan were well-placed against the then second-ranked Australia on the back of hundreds from Azhar Ali and Younis Khan when Misbah walked in. Pakistan required a quick flurry from the captain on Day 4 of the Test match to post a sizeable target for Australia. This is exactly what Misbah did. He started off with a first-ball four to Steve Smith, who then dropped him on the very next ball. The drop cost him dearly as Misbah sent him for three massive sixes in the very next over, followed by a couple of fours to Mitchel Marsh, and eventually reached his half-century, the fastest fifty in the Test cricket history, with a three on a Mitchel Starc’s attempted yorker. Pakistan’s most successful Test skipper eventually scored the joint-fastest Test hundred on 51 balls to equal Sir Vivian Richards’ record.
2 – David Warner (27 balls)
Ironically, the second fastest half-century in Test cricket features the same opponents but in reversed roles. This time, Pakistan were at the receiving end, with swashbuckling opener, David Warner, thrashing them all over the ground.
It is the story of the third and the final Test match of Pakistan’s tour to Australia in Sydney. Opting to bat first, the Kangaroos piled on runs on a belter of a pitch with Warner taking the charge in the first session of the day. He thrashed Pakistan’s experienced bowling lineup that included the likes of Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan Sr., and Yasir Shah, all over the park, and brought up his fifty in just 23 balls, just two more than Misbah. Warner went on to score a brilliant hundred inside the first session of the Test match and became only the first batsman to do so.
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3 – Jacques Kallis (24 balls)
Jacques Henry Kallis, one of the finest all-rounders the Test cricket has ever come across with over 13,000 runs and nearly 300 Test wickets, owns the record of the 3d fastest fifty in Test cricket. He achieved this feat in a Test match against Zimbabwe back in 2005. After bundling up Zimbabwe for just 54 in the first innings on a bouncy Cap Town track, South Africa were sitting in a comfortable position thanks to a 217-run opening stand between Graeme Smith (121) and AB de Villiers (98). Kallis walked in and started smashing the ball from the word go. In a short (42-minute) stay at the crease, Kallis completed his fifty in just 24 balls with a six before being caught on the very next ball for 54.
4 – Shane Shillingford – (25 balls)
Shillingford is a former West Indies off-spinner who has 70 scalps in his 16-match Test career. But, what makes him immortal in history books is a batting feat that came in a home Test against New Zealand, although in a losing cause. Shillingford walked in at No.9 when Daniel Vettori and Ish Sodhi were turning the ball big time and taking wickets from both ends. West Indies required another 250 runs with only one wicket in hand. However, the right-arm tail-ender required not more to create the then second-fastest fifty (behind Kallis) in just 25 balls. Shillingford announced himself at the crease with a second-ball six to leg-spinner Sodhi and continued the momentum throughout, before reaching his fifty in just 25 balls. He could have extended the procession had the No.11 Sulieman Benn not lost his wicket.
5 – Shahid Afridi (27 balls)
Shahid Khan Afridi, famously known as Boom Boom Afridi, held the record of the fast ODI hundred (in 37 balls) for nearly two decades before it was broken by New Zealand’s Corey Anderson in 2014, and then by AB de Villiers (31 balls) in 2015 World Cup. Afridi carried his style of batting throughout his career as he stands among records in all three formats. The destructive batsman stands at No.5 in our list of the fastest Test fifties. Afridi’s one of the most memorable Test innings came against archrivals India in Bengaluru Test in March 2005. It was the third and final Test of the three-match series and Pakistan required a win to draw the series that India were leading 1-0. Afridi, with a golden duck in the first innings, came to open with Yasir Hameed in the second innings and began to thrash Indian bowlers from the first over. Studded with eight fours and two sixes, Afridi’s 50 came in just 27 balls and made him the then fastest half-centurion. Overall, he stands fifth on the list. On the back of his all-rounder performance — as he also bagged three key wickets on the final day — Pakistan managed to level the series with a 168-run win in the final moments of the day.
Five Fastest Fifties in Test Cricket
|21||Misbah-ul-Haq||Pakistan vs Australia||Abu Dhabi||2014|
|23||David Warner||Australia vs Pakistan||Sydney||2017|
|24||Jacques Kallis||S. Africa v Zimbabwe||Cape Town||2005|
|25||Shane Shillingford||Windies v New Zealand||Kingston||2014|
|26||Shahid Afridi||Pakistan vs India||Bangaluru||2005|