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Wagner powers New Zealand to historic one-run win

Wagner powers New Zealand to historic one-run win

Wagner powers New Zealand to historic one-run win

NZ 209 & 483 (f/o)

ENG 435/8 d & 256

New Zealand won by 1 run

Hosts level series 1-1 after becoming only the fourth team in Test history to successfully overcome a follow-on

New Zealand became only the fourth team in history to win a Test after following on, and the second to win by a one-run margin, as they wrestled the game away from England on a dramatic final day in Wellington. Neil Wagner was the catalyst with a short-ball assault during the afternoon session and he capped the comeback by taking the final wicket amid rising tension at Basin Reserve.

Wagner finished with 4 for 62 as the home side battled back after a century stand between Joe Root and Ben Stokes to inflict England's first defeat in seven Tests and ensure a drawn series.

Four wickets fell during a chaotic first hour on day five but Root produced an assured response and the game appeared to be slipping away from New Zealand when Wagner was called back into the attack. He had immediate success in targeting the limping Stokes, who had been struggling with his long-standing knee issue, and when Root also miscued a pull in his next over, to depart for 95, the pendulum had swung again.

The bouncer ploy also saw off Stuart Broad, who ramped Matt Henry to deep third, but Ben Foakes played unflappably in the company of Jack Leach - who knows a bit about fourth-innings heroics with the bat - to whittle the requirement down to single figures. Foakes then fell hooking at Tim Southee and although James Anderson struck Wagner for four to take England to within two runs of victory, he was caught down the leg side to spark jubilant celebrations among the New Zealanders.

England, who declared their first innings eight down and then made New Zealand follow on 226 runs behind, were ultimately victims of their own positive intent, at no point looking to make the game safe despite sitting on a 1-0 lead. But New Zealand were deserving winners after dredging a response with the bat, led by Kane Williamson's hundred in the third innings, and then finding a way to take ten wickets on a surface that had few fifth-day demons.

There was more than a measure of revenge for the original victims of Bazball, after New Zealand were swept aside in three consecutive chases during the English summer. Victory in Wellington not only preserved an unbeaten record at home stretching back to 2016-17, but it meant they became the first team in seven attempts to thwart Stokes' team in the fourth innings.

Victory was secured in front of a healthy crowd, taking advantage of free entry on the final day, as the Basin Reserve joined a select group of Tests that needs little further elaboration: Kolkata 2001, Headingley 1981 and Sydney 1884.

Kane Williamson, Player of the Match: It isn't quite fair to be standing here after a game of cricket like that. The contributions we've seen from both teams ... fantastic game of cricket to be a part of. For us as a team, we've been fighting away in the Test format for a while, it's kinda nice to get across the line in this one. You always try to do the best you can for the team and it's never enough. We saw some really valuable partnerships to get us a total on the board and something to bowl at in the last innings. We had to fight really hard to reverse some of the momentum. This English team is playing incredible cricket at the moment. We were up against it coming into this game. To fight away, to complete and ultimately just get across the line is a nice feeling. I was just trying to stick to the basics. We knew we were going to be challenged. There is so much quality in this English attack and the pitched offered a little bit throughout. Amazing pitch that set the platform for a fantastic game of cricket. Jimmy smacked it hard (about the last four that Anderson hit), one of those things.

But credit to England, they add spice to every game they play. They are the oregano seasoning to every continental dish. They pounded NZ in the first Test. It seemed another encore was on its way on day 1 when Brook displayed his batting skills. Root held it together and England declared on 435. NZ imploded in the first innings. They were asked to follow-on. England were set for another Test series win before a few spirited Kiwis decided to take charge.

Harry Brook, Player of the Series: In the end, it was a good cricket wicket. It was an enjoyable game to watch. I contributed at that stage and got us that wicket. The result didn't go our way. But credit to New Zealand. They were fantastic. Trying to take one game at a time.


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