New Zealand enter the series against England today as distant second favourites, but that doesn't mean their challenge should be taken lightly - they have a history of catching teams unaware. As a source of inspiration for them, Cricinfo looks back at 11 of their greatest overseas victories.
Cape Town, 1961-62
It took New Zealand 26 years to achieve their first Test win and they had to wait another six years for their second, which was also their first victory away from home. The third Test in Cape Town featured vastly inexperienced sides - South Africa played seven men who had made their Test debuts during the series and New Zealand included five. John Reid and Zin Harris started strongly - Harris made a century and Reid 92 - and New Zealand posted 385 before Frank Cameron and the legspinner Jack Alabaster rattled through the hosts for 190. In spite of match figures of 11 for 196 from South Africa's debutant Sydney Burke, New Zealand managed to set the hosts 408 to win. A century to Roy McLean and brave resistance from Jackie McGlew, who had spent part of the match in hospital with badly damaged fingers, was not enough to stop New Zealand securing a history-making 72-run win. Their captain, Reid, said before the tour that his side was the best team ever to represent New Zealand abroad and the results supported him; they went on to draw the five-match series 2-2.
In oppressive heat, on a sharp-turning Nagpur pitch, up against Bishan Bedi, S Venkataraghavan and Erapalli Prasanna bowling long spells, New Zealand's batsmen needed all their patience and concentration. They had lost the first Test in Bombay, but things looked better when their top order, featuring Graham Dowling, Bevan Congdon and Mark Burgess helped them to 319. Venkat picked up nine wickets for the match but so did New Zealand's left-arm spinner Hedley Howarth, whose second-innings 5 for 34 was vital in knocking over the hosts for 109 as they sought 277 for what would have been a 2-0 series lead. It was New Zealand's first Test win on the subcontinent and they went agonisingly close to claiming the series. The third and final match in Hyderabad was heading for a certain New Zealand victory when a fifth-day storm, and some dubiously slow mopping-up techniques, ended their chances of a famous triumph.
New Zealand finally won a Test in England after 17 defeats and 11 draws, overcoming a hostile spell from Bob Willis to secure a five-wicket triumph on the fourth day. It also ended a 16-year drought for an overseas victory and, amazingly, didn't include a wicket from Richard Hadlee, although he deserved much better. Lance Cairns was the hero with ten wickets in the match and seven in the first innings in helpful conditions. England were well placed on 175 for 3 before they lost 7 for 50. John Wright (93) and Bruce Edgar (84) then played key roles in engineering a 152-run win. Edgar had to retire hurt after being hit on the thigh by Ian Botham, but returned to add 84 with Hadlee, who scored a vital 75. Ewan Chatfield bagged five in the second innings. Only David Gower's 112 provided much resistance. The target caused a few wobbles, but Jeremy Coney held his nerve. He later said: "The main feeling was thinking of all the New Zealand players who have been coming here for 52 years, better players than myself, and making sure that their sweat and effort had not been in vain." England hit back to take the final two Tests and claim the four-match series 3-1, but New Zealand always had Headingley.
New Zealand proved they were no longer to be considered Australia's quaint cricketing cousins with a crushing display at the Gabba, where Hadlee's 15 wickets led the visitors to victory by an innings and 41 runs. His first-innings 9 for 52 - at the time the fourth-best analysis in a Test innings - could have been ten had he himself not caught Geoff Lawson, the ninth man out, in the outfield off Vaughan Brown's bowling. Hadlee was helped by cloudy, humid conditions and a pitch with some moisture, but his control and movement were outstanding. It was a match where it all came together for New Zealand; after they bundled Australia out for 179, Martin Crowe alone secured a first-innings lead with 188, and New Zealand's 553 for 7 was their highest Test total. There were another six wickets for Hadlee in the second innings and Allan Border's men, fresh from a 1-3 Ashes defeat in England, were suddenly under significant pressure.
Another match, another Hadlee masterclass. He picked up 11 wickets at the WACA to give New Zealand their first series win against Australia. He also finished the series with a remarkable 33 victims at 12.15, the best figures in a three-match Test tour since SF Barnes in 1912. New Zealand entered the match with the series at 1-1 - they were unfortunate to have lost the second Test, at the SCG, which could have gone either way. But their medium-fast seamers, who had laboured on hard and fast Australian pitches in the past, found themselves in 1985-86 bowling on surfaces more like those in their own country. It also meant sensible, straight-playing batsman could thrive. It was the perfect combination for New Zealand. Even the renovated WACA ground was not its usual lightning self, though the batsmen were not entirely comfortable, and when New Zealand were set 164 to win at roughly two an over, on a pitch that was breaking up, they were no certainty. But Crowe's unbeaten 42 got them there with six wickets and ten overs to spare.
Hadlee claimed the world wicket-taking record in the first Test but New Zealand predictably lost. When they were 175 for 8 on the opening day of the second match in Mumbai the series was following the expected path. However, John Bracewell scraped together a battling 52 - his first crucial role in a match he would eventually win - to lift New Zealand to 236. Hadlee claimed 6 for 49 and as Wisden reported: "[He] once again began to dictate terms: none of the remaining batsmen could keep him out as [Kris] Srikkanth had done at the start." India's last eight wickets went for 100 and they trailed by 2. Andrew Jones' 78 and Ian Smith's 54 set India 282 in 130 overs; they didn't get close. Srikkanth fell to Hadlee's first-ball incutter before Bracewell took over and removed Navjot Sidhu and Dilip Vengsarkar in his first two. There was no way back for India, who were never comfortable against Bracewell. "Azharuddin's nervous start against Bracewell's old-fashioned, yet sharp, off-breaks told the whole tale of how India were being hoist with their own petard," Wisden said.
New Zealand marked their first tour of South Africa in 33 years with a victory that stunned the home side in Hansie Cronje's first Test as captain. It was a real team performance: Shane Thomson made 84, Crowe 83, Ken Rutherford 68, and there was a final wicket stand of 57, boosting them to above 400. Then Simon Doull took six wickets, and Matthew Hart five to wrap up the win. Dion Nash had South Africa in early trouble at 38 for 3, although Andrew Hudson's dismissal was shrouded in controversy: replays showed he'd walked for a catch that bounced. It needed Dave Richardson's 93 to avoid the follow-on but Fanie de Villiers brought South Africa back into the match as New Zealand fell to 34 for 5. Stubborn efforts from the lower order set South Africa a target of 327 on a wearing pitch. Hart's left-arm spin proved the trump card, helping to cover for the loss of Nash, who suffered a tour-ending side strain. The series, though, sank rapidly from these heights as New Zealand lost the final two Tests to become the first side since 1888 to lose a three-match series after going ahead. Three players - Hart, Nash and Stephen Fleming - were also suspended for smoking cannabis, and injuries hit the squad badly.
This was just New Zealand's second win in Pakistan and was inspired by an outstanding display of swing bowling from Doull. He claimed 8 for 85 in the match as New Zealand overcame an impressive debut century from Mohammad Wasim to secure a 44-run win on the fourth day. The opening stages of the match suggested anything but an away win, as Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed shared eight wickets to blow New Zealand apart for 155. But when their turn came, Pakistan slumped to 37 for 5 against Doull before hauling themselves to a seemingly vital 36-run lead. Chris Cairns turned the match as he came in at 101 for 5 and blasted 93 off 89 balls, while Fleming stood firm with an unbeaten 92. Chasing 276, Pakistan crashed to 60 for 6, and although Wasim resisted, he couldn't deny New Zealand. Cairns admitted it had been an emotional experience. "I went up to Simon to congratulate him on an outstanding performance. I was quite close to tears. Actually, I might have shed the odd tear or two. It was just so great to beat Pakistan over here and be involved with a great bunch of guys." However, Pakistan fought back in the second Test with an innings-and-13-run win to share the series.
New Zealand let a winning position slip in the opening Test at Edgbaston after having had England on the ropes at 45 for 7. However, at Lord's they were always in control from the time Cairns took advantage of an overcast first day and reduced the home side to 183 for 9, taking 6 for 77 - among those the wicket of Chris Read, who was left looking like an embarrassed schoolboy by a brilliant slower ball. Then Matt Horne's 100 helped New Zealand build a lead of 172, and to compound England's problems they lost Nasser Hussain, their captain, with a broken finger. Second time around, the wickets were shared around the visitors' attack. Geoff Allott, who had been one of the stars of the World Cup a few weeks earlier, claimed three. It left New Zealand needing 58 and they completed their first win at Lord's in 13 attempts, and their first win in England since 1986.
The Oval, 1999
Two Tests after Lord's, following an Old Trafford match they'd completely dominated between spells of rain, this was the finest moment for many of the New Zealand team, as they claimed the series. The match turned on some pyrotechnic hitting by Cairns - this series showed him at the peak of his powers - who launched 80 off 93 balls on the third afternoon as England were threatening a revival through Andy Caddick. Cairns' onslaught left a target of 246 and the match was intriguingly poised entering the fourth day with England on 91 for 2. But Graham Thorpe's wicket, followed quickly by that of Mike Atherton, sparked the final collapse of England's wretched summer. It was fitting that the last catch was held by Roger Twose, who had left county cricket to return to his native New Zealand in search of an international career. Hussain was booed on the balcony, but Fleming was left to bask in what would remain one of his most memorable successes.
Thirty years after they played their first Test in the Caribbean, New Zealand finally won a match there, and comprehensively at that. Fleming, who had said New Zealanders' mental image of cricket in the West Indies was of "guys being hit on the helmet, broken bones, and fire and brimstone", led the way with 130 against an attack that was anything but life-threatening. Mervyn Dillon, Daren Powell, Pedro Collins and Adam Sanford were hardly of the Holding and Roberts mould. Nor were most of West Indies' batsmen in the Richards and Lloyd category. Not even Brian Lara could stop Daniel Vettori and Ian Butler, of all people, running through for 107. Trailing by 230 on the first innings, West Indies were spent, and Shane Bond's first five-wicket haul confirmed the 204 run win within four days.
Andrew McGlashan and Brydon Coverdale are staff writers at Cricinfo