New Zealand pulled off a stunning victory against England in the second Test at Wellington’s Basin Reserve, winning by just one run after being asked to follow on. The victory saw the hosts become just the fourth team in test history to claim victory after being asked to follow on. The win was particularly remarkable as England had romped to a 267-run win in the series-opener at Mount Maunganui and had won three successive tests by chasing down fourth-innings targets above 250 over the home summer.
On the final day of the Test, England had been set 258 runs to win. New Zealand’s hopes looked slim after lunch as England’s captain Ben Stokes and Joe Root produced a 121-run stand, reducing the deficit to just 57 runs with five wickets in hand. However, Neil Wagner, who had conceded more than eight runs an over in the third innings, made an extraordinary comeback, taking four wickets and two crucial catches. He had both Root and Stokes out slogging in Wellington then nervelessly held catches in the deep to help remove Stuart Broad and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes for 35. Foakes’s wicket left tailenders Jack Leach and James Anderson needing seven runs for victory, and Anderson hit a boundary off Wagner to trim the target to two runs.
Undeterred, Wagner had Anderson caught down the leg side for four to trigger jubilation among his team mates and the home fans in the crowd. Wagner finished with 4-62 in the fourth innings and was praised by England’s Stokes after the game.
New Zealand’s captain Kane Williamson was named Man of the Match having scored a brilliant 132 in the second innings when the hosts put on 483 and defied Stokes for enforcing the follow-on. Harry Brook, England’s Impressive Newcomer, Earns Man of the Series Title with Stellar Performances.
New Zealand’s victory was a testament to their fighting spirit, with Wagner stating that “That’s what this team’s about, just keep playing. We keep loving to fight for each other”. The hosts also preserved their unbeaten record at home dating back to 2017, handing England only their second defeat in 12 tests since Stokes and head coach Brendon ‘Baz’ McCullum unleashed the team’s attacking ‘Bazball’ revolution last year.
England will undoubtedly be disappointed with the result, with Stokes admitting that “sometimes things don’t happen the way you want them to but it was a good one, wasn’t it?”. However, they can take solace in the fact that they played a part in one of the most dramatic outcomes in Test cricket.
Overall, New Zealand’s victory was a testament to their resilience and fighting spirit, and they will undoubtedly take great confidence from the result. As for England, they will need to regroup and come back stronger in their next series.