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New Zealand and England have just played perhaps the greatest Test match of all time in the New Zealand vs England second Test.
It wasn’t always looking like it would be much of a contest. After England piled on the runs at pace in the first innings then bowled New Zealand out for peanuts, the Kiwis were asked to follow on. What followed was a piece of history, however. For only the fourth time ever, a team that has been forced to follow on wound up on the right side of the result, and for the third time in history a Test match was been won by a single run.
Here’s our play by play rundown of just how the Black Caps managed to foil Bazball in Wellington and win the NZ vs Eng second Test in dramatic fashion.
New Zealand vs England Second Test: A Test of Two Halves
Half way through the New Zealand vs England second Test, it wasn’t looking good for the home side.
England began at a frantic pace yet again, scoring 435/8d at a rate of 4.99 runs per over. The only reason the Kiwis weren’t sent in to bat on the first day was because of rain interruptions, which meant England’s 87.1 overs spilled into the second day.
Joe Root and Harry Brook were the stars of England’s innings, scoring 302 together after the visitors were quickly reduced to 21/3 courtesy of Tim Southee and Matt Henry. With Root striking 153 from 224 and Brook falling just short of a double, making 186 from 176, the English innings was well set up despite the others contributing little.
In reply, New Zealand were woeful, reduced to 103/7 in no time at all. If it wasn’t for the heroics of Tim Southee, who rewound the clock 15 years in his cameo of 73 from 49, the Black Caps would have entered the third innings in much worse shape.
As it was, after each side had batted, New Zealand were behind by 226 runs.
The Kiwi Comeback Begins
Stuck in to bat again with Ben Stokes enforcing the follow on, it looked like this Test could be wrapped up in the best part of three days.
Not so fast: Enter, the Kiwi comeback.
Tom Latham and Devon Conway did what openers are supposed to do, with each racking up a gritty half centuries, taking New Zealand through to 149/0 before the first wicket fell. It was no respite for England, as the next batter in happened to be Kane Williamson, who would bat for over six hours to score 132 and become New Zealand’s leading Test run scorer in the process, overtaking Ross Taylor.
Together, the Black Caps more than doubled their first innings effort, racking up 483 by the time they were bowled out, despite losing the final five wickets for 28 runs. Having accumulated a 257 run lead, the match was finely balanced with an hour’s play left in Day Four.
The Plot Thickens As England Stumble
Tickets to the Basin Reserve were made free for locals on Day Five of the New Zealand vs England second Test, and few would have suspected the drama that was to unfold. Based on the evidence of the past 10 months, most expected England to collect their remaining 200-odd runs in the first session and a half, having got through to 48/1 the day before.
But this Test wasn’t done with its twists.
An early double strike reduced England to 59/3, before Ollie Pope and Harry Brook fell in quick succession to make it 80/5. Joe Root dug in and was looking to be the star of the show, while Ben Stokes played second fiddle with a remarkably docile knock.
Just when the game was looking done and dusted at 201/5 with only 57 runs needed, Neil Wagner put on his cape and came to New Zealand’s rescue.
Bazball Fails at the Final Hurdle
Snaffling Root for 95 from 113 and Ben Stokes for 33 from 116, Wagner opened up a crack in England’s line up. This crack deepened when Stuart Broad fell to make it 215/8, before it was flayed wide open when Ben Foakes departed for 35 from 57.
With eight runs needed and only genuine tail enders at the crease, it was all on in the New Zealand vs England second Test.
Jack Leach had faced 28 balls for no run, while Jimmy Anderson looked in the mood to be the aggressor. A few singles and four took them to within two runs of victory, and just as it looked like Wagner and Southee’s bouncers were going to tie the game through wides, Neil Wagner struck. A tantalising ball angling down leg was presented to Anderson, with the No.11 drawn into a shot that saw him giving away the faintest of edges to keeper Tom Blundell. Behind by just a run, England’s Bazball approach failed at the last hurdle, and New Zealand won the Test by one run, tying the series at 1-1 and tarnishing England’s winning streak.
For only the third time in history, a match was won by one run.