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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Shades of Kolkata in 2001 as New Zealand pull off unlikely Test victory


History was made in Wellington on Tuesday as New Zealand became just the fourth team ever to win a Test match after being forced to follow on when they pulled off a thrilling one-run victory over England in a classic final-day contest.

Lion-hearted pacer Neil Wagner (4/62) was the hero for the Kiwis as he had James Anderson caught behind down the leg side to clinch a famous victory for New Zealand at Basin Reserve.

The hosts’ hopes had looked forlorn when they were asked to follow on after being dismissed for just 209 in their first innings in reply to England’s 435/8 declared, but Kane Williamson’s 26th Test century on the penultimate day of a topsy-turvy contest gave New Zealand some hope, the ICC reported.

England had to chase down 258 for victory in the fourth innings and they looked to be in control when Joe Root (95) and Ben Stokes (33) were at the crease and less than 60 runs was required.

But Wagner and Tim Southee (3/45) dug deep during a tense finale to ensure New Zealand picked up a thrilling triumph to level the two-match series at one-game apiece.

New Zealand join three other teams to have won a Test match after being forced to follow on, with t

he most recent prior to this clash coming back in 2001 when India clinched an unlikely win against Australia in Kolkata.

The Kiwis’ winning margin of one-run is just the second time in the history of Test cricket that a match has been decided by that narrow margin, with the only other occurrence coming in 1993 when the West Indies pulled off a similar triumph over Australia in Adelaide.

“It’s a pretty special Test win,” Southee told reporters after the match.

“The character that we’ve shown in the last three days has been very impressive and I’m proud of

the guys to be able to bounce back after a tough first couple of days,” he said.

“It was just a great Test match to be involved in, only four times in the history of the game, so it was

a very pleasing Test to be part of,” Southee said.

The match was not part of the current World Test Championship period, with both New Zealand and England already out of contention of reaching June’s final.

The loss was just England’s second since Brendon McCullum took over as coach early last year, with their next five-day contest coming in a one-off Test against Ireland at the start of June.

England then embark on a five-match series against arch-rival Australia as part of this year’s Ashes series on home soil.

New Zealand host Sri Lanka for a two-match series at home next month, with the Asian side still in with an outside chance of reaching the World Test Championship final should results fall their way.

Brief score:

New Zealand – 209 & 483

England – 435/8d & 256

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