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Explained: How Many Overs in Test Match

Test cricket, the oldest and most prestigious form of the game, has a unique structure that sets it apart from shorter formats like One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and Twenty20 (T20) matches. 

A casual viewer of cricket may sometimes find the rules of Test cricket difficult to understand. Those who do not watch Test cricket regularly often ask questions like “how many overs in Test match?” or “what is follow-on in a Test match” 

This article will serve as a beginners guide to watching Test cricket

How Many Overs in a Test Cricket Match with Several Factors

Test matches are played between international teams over a duration of up to five days. The first officially recognized Test match was played from March 15 to March 19, 1877, between England and Australia at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Australia. Australia emerged victorious in this historic match, winning by 45 runs. 

Unlike limited-overs cricket, Test matches do not have a fixed number of overs. Instead, they are structured around the number of days and the two innings each team is allowed.

While there is no set number of overs in a Test match, a typical day consists of 90 overs. Therefore, over the course of five days, a maximum of 450 overs can theoretically be bowled. 

On the final day, specific provisions apply for the “last hour.” This requires that at least 15 overs must be bowled once the last hour begins.

However, this number of balls bowled in a Test match can vary due to several factors – 

  • Weather conditions: Rain or bad light can reduce the number of overs bowled in a day.
  • Over rates: The rate at which bowlers deliver their overs can affect the total number of overs bowled in a day. Umpires can impose penalties on teams for slow over rates.
  • Game situations: Matches can end earlier if a team wins by an innings or if both teams complete their innings within fewer days.

How Many Overs in Test Match Per Day?

A typical day in Test cricket is divided into three two-hour sessions, interspersed with a lunch break of up to 40 minutes and a tea break of 20 minutes. However, these timings can be adjusted under certain conditions mentioned above.

The last session of the day can be extended by up to 30 minutes if the required 90 overs have not been completed (considering any reductions due to adverse weather). Additionally, the final session can also be extended by 30 minutes (except on the fifth day) if the umpires believe a result can be reached within that time. 

Read More: Explained Followon Rule in Test Cricket

Structure of Innings

In a Test match, each team has the opportunity to bat twice, leading to four innings in total (two per team). The team batting first aims to set a high score, while the second team tries to surpass that score. If the second team scores higher, the first team has to bat again to set a target for the second team in their second innings.

Follow-on Rule

A unique feature of Test cricket is the follow-on rule. If the team batting second scores significantly fewer runs than the team that batted first (currently, 200 runs behind in a five-day match), the team that batted first can enforce the follow-on. This means the second team has to bat again immediately, without the first team batting a second time. This rule is designed to keep the match moving forward and prevent one-sided games.

Shortest Test Matches in History

India vs. South Africa (2023)

This match lasted only 107 overs and ended within two days. India secured a seven-wicket victory at Newlands, Cape Town, with standout bowling performances from Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah, who exploited the favourable conditions to decimate the South African batting lineup. The game saw a total of 33 wickets fall rapidly, highlighting the dominance of the bowlers.

Australia vs. South Africa (1931)

Played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, this match concluded in just 109.2 overs. South Africa’s first innings collapse for a meagre 36 runs set the tone for the game. Australia capitalized on this with a strong performance, eventually winning by an innings and 72 runs. The match is noted for the exceptional bowling by Australian pacers, who dismantled the South African batting order with ease.

West Indies vs. England (1935)

Held in Bridgetown, this weather-affected Test match spanned only 112 overs. Despite the disruptions, England managed to chase down a modest target of 75 in their fourth innings to clinch the victory. 


In conclusion, Test cricket, characterized by its potential duration of up to five days, features two innings per team with no fixed number of overs. Unlike limited-overs formats, Test matches prioritize the battle of endurance, technique, and strategy, where the number of overs can vary significantly based on various factors such as pitch conditions, weather, and the skills of the players involved.

This format allows for a comprehensive examination of a team’s cricketing abilities, making it the ultimate test of challenge in the sport.



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