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RESULT
2nd Test, Wellington, February 24 - 28, 2023, England tour of New Zealand
PrevNext
(T:258) 435/8d & 256
(fo) 209 & 483

New Zealand won by 1 run

Player Of The Match
132
kane-williamson
Player Of The Series
329 runs • 1 wkt
harry-brook
Report

New Zealand beat England in one-run thriller, make history by overcoming follow-on

Neil Wagner breaks England in fourth innings as home side seal victory by barest of margins

Alan Gardner
Alan Gardner
28-Feb-2023
Neil Wagner appeals successfully after James Anderson is caught behind down the leg side, New Zealand vs England, 2nd Test, Wellington, 5th day, February 28, 2023

Neil Wagner took the last wicket of the Test to seal the win  •  Getty Images

New Zealand 209 (Southee 73, Broad 4-61, Anderson 3-37) and 483 (Williamson 132, Blundell 90, Latham 81, Leach 5-157) beat England 435 for 8 dec (Brook 186, Root 153*, Henry 4-100) and 256 (Root 95, Wagner 4-62, Southee 3-45) by one run
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 Tuesday 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 series 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 - nine of them on the fifth day - on a surface that had few 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.
The result 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.
Stokes said afterwards that he would do the same again: "In terms of looking back and making my decision around the follow-on, no, I don't regret it. Other teams are allowed to play better than us and New Zealand have played better than us this week."
England came into the final day needing 210 runs with nine wickets standing, and would have been viewed as favourites given their recent proficiency in such situations. They were in trouble at 80 for 5, with Root culpable in the run-out of Harry Brook before he had faced a ball, but were seemingly on course for victory after a 121-run stand between the current captain and his predecessor.
Enter Wagner, whose bumper-to-bumper method had been taken apart so comprehensively in the first Test at Mount Maunganui. On this occasion it bore fruit straight away. Stokes had been visibly hampered by injury and opted to try and hit his way out of trouble, but his top-edged pull, with the bottom hand coming off the bat, was safely by Tom Latham taken at square leg.
England at this stage were precariously placed, still 57 from their target, and they had knocked one off that when Root holed out five runs shy of his second hundred in the match. Foakes nearly fell in the same manner, Michael Bracewell misjudging the flight of the ball at deep midwicket, but with tea pushed back Southee returned to end a 36-run stand for the ninth wicket and it was fitting that Wagner was the man to seal a nail-biting win in the tenth over of his game-turning spell.
Both teams had seen their fortunes ebb and flow in the Test, and that continued on day five with New Zealand ripping out four wickets early on. But Root attacked Bracewell's offspin on the way to a run-a-ball fifty while Stokes, playing an uncharacteristically defensive hand, gritted his teeth through the probings of Henry - as well as the discomfort caused by his knee - to resurrect England's fortunes either side of the lunch break.
With Bracewell under pressure, the home side's cause was further dented when Henry was forced to leave the field with back soreness - although he was able return and bowled a key spell that helped put the brakes on Root's innings and almost saw off Stokes, with Daryl Mitchell unable to cling on to a flying chance at slip.
New Zealand needed to start well, and the first hour could barely have gone better for them. England lost 4 for 27, including the run-out of Brook, whose scintillating 186 in the first innings had helped push the game on despite more than 50 overs being lost to rain over the first two days.
Ollie Robinson, the nightwatcher, was dismissed in the third over of the morning, a top-edged swipe across the line ending up in the hands of slip. With Ollie Pope beaten twice in his first three balls from Southee, England looked to Ben Duckett for assurance but the opener added just ten runs to his overnight total before reaching for a cut at Henry and thick-edging behind.
A quiet period followed, before New Zealand struck twice in as many balls to send another ripple of panic through the tourists. Pope had played his first authoritative shot, pulling Wagner for four, when he opted to back cut and steered the ball straight to second slip, Tom Latham holding a sharp chance.
England were 80 for 4 and that became 80 for 5 minutes later as Root called without realising his back-foot dab had not got through the cordon, Bracewell swooping from third slip to fire in a throw to Tom Blundell that left Brook well short, and continuing his jog straight back to the dressing room. England under Stokes have made a habit of "running towards the danger" but this was too literal an interpretation of the mantra.

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

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