Neil Wagner powers New Zealand to historic one-run win |

Neil Wagner powers New Zealand to historic one-run win |

Updated: 21 days, 7 hours, 53 minutes, 46 seconds ago

by Cricbuzz Staff Neil Wagner dismissed Ben Stokes and Joe Root to pull New Zealand back into the game, and then removed James Anderson to secure the victory

Neil Wagner's bouncer-infused second-session spell paved the way for New Zealand's dramatic comeback in Basin Reserve as they became just the third team (after England and India) to win a Test match after following on. It was also only the fourth instance of such an occurance, as they completed a one-run victory in the post-Lunch session. The win gave them series parity, and ensured England didn't become the first team since 2017 to win a Test series in New Zealand.

Despite losing four wickets in the first hour of the morning session, Joe Root put England on course for a series sweep as well as their seventh successive Test victory - a feat last achieved by England 19 years ago. Wagner however, extended the wait to pull that off as he first bounced out a struggling Ben Stokes and then dismissed Root to expose the tail and leave them to chase the remaining 56 runs.

This was Wagner's best spell of the series. In each of the innings preceeding it, England batters have taken runs at at least five an over against the left-armer. In the second innings in Bay Oval, he went at 8.50. But the Day 5 variable bounce in Basin Reserve worked as a perfect ally for him. First, he bowled a well directed bouncer to a hobbling Stokes, who moved his front foot out and went for the pull but the hurt back knee meant he had no control over his shot. He ended up mistiming it to Tom Latham at square leg. In his next over, Root went for a pull against a length ball that came up to his midriff, but he too mistimed the shot and walked back for 95 after giving Michael Bracewell a simple catch at midwicket.

As Stuart Broad walked out, New Zealand's ploy was straightforward. A bouncer barrage from both ends through Wagner and Matt Henry, who recovered well during the Lunch break after going off with a back problem. Wagner tested Broad with the rising deliveries, but Broad too was wiling to fight fire with fire as he attempted to put them away each time. Wagner built up all the pressure with short balls at one end, and Henry reaped the rewards as Broad played a ramp shot against a well-drected bouncer and ended up hitting to Wagner at third man. With that, England were eight down and New Zealand were clear favourites to complete what would be an incredible heist.

Henry bowled to Jack Leach with two silly points and kept firing short balls, with the England No.10's resolve to stay put at one end being tested. Wagner nearly dismissed Foakes when the latter took on the bouncer and played a pull shot, but Bracewell at deep square leg took a couple of steps in and ended up out of position to take a catch. Foakes got a four off that ball to take the target down to the 20s. Another momentum shift at this stage was palpable. Foakes, now full of confidence, pulled a Wagner short ball down the ground for a four and then pulled one from outside the off-stump past mid-wicket.

In their desperation for one more breakthrough, Wagner and Tim Southee bowled short balls that sailed way above the batter's helmet that were adjudged wides to take two more runs off the target. As the pressure ramped up on New Zealand, they burned a review for a caught behind appeal against Leach. Just when it looked like the game had slipped away from New Zealand's hands, Southee returned to bowl a fine bouncer to Foakes who pulled and top-edged it to Wagner at fine leg. England were down to their final-wicket pair with seven to get for a win.

There was more drama in store as a top-edge off Leach's bat went high but fell between two converging fielders. Next ball, Anderson stepped out, swung wildly and connected to send the ball to the midwicket fence. England came within two runs of winning the game, when Anderson nicked a ball from Wagner on the leg side and Blundell took a diving catch to bring the series to an incredibly epic end.

Earlier in the day, Root helmed England's chase as New Zealand began the day with a spring in their step. They picked four wickets in the first hour, and Southee - who himself bowled a testing spell - brought his wicketkeeper up to all the pacers and got them to bowl a bit shorter to deny England the chance to dance down or play expansive shots against pitched up bowling. From 80 for 5, Root and Ben Stokes arrested England's slide and quickly put their side on top in the chase. Stokes, who suffered a knee injury, played second fiddle to a free-stroking Root, who went to Lunch break on a run-a-ball 74. At that stage, England were only 90 runs short of the target and seemed on course. New Zealand, however, flipped the game on its head in a single session.

Brief Scores: England 435/8 decl. (Harry Brook 186, Joe Root 153*; Matt Henry 4-100, Michael Bracewell 2-54) & 256 (Joe Root 95, Ben Foakes 35; Neil Wagner 4-62, Tim Southee 3-45) lost to New Zealand 209 (Tim Southee 73, Tom Blundell 38; Stuart Broad 4-61, James Anderson 3-37) & 483 (Kane Williamson 132, Tom Blundell 90; Jack Leach 5-157) by 1 run