New Zealand beat England by one run in second-Test thriller

It was only the fourth occasion a team has won a Test after being asked to follow on and the first time for New Zealand.
New Zealand's Tom Blundell (L) celebrates with teammates after catching out England's Ben Duckett on day 5 of their cricket test match in Wellington, Feb 28, 2023. (Photo | AP)
New Zealand's Tom Blundell (L) celebrates with teammates after catching out England's Ben Duckett on day 5 of their cricket test match in Wellington, Feb 28, 2023. (Photo | AP)

WELLINGTON: New Zealand beat England by just one run in the second-Test thriller on Tuesday to draw the series despite having been forced to follow on in Wellington.

New Zealand set England a target of 258 runs to win, but the visitors were all out for 256 in dramatic scenes as the two-Test series finished 1-1.

Neil Wagner took the decisive wicket of James Anderson as New Zealand wicketkeeper Tom Blundell pulled off a diving catch to make history. "Amazing achievement, hats off to everyone, everyone kept fighting," said Wagner, who finished with 4-62.

"That's the characteristics of this team, they played well, credit where it's due, but we found a way of contributing," he added.

Blundell was delighted to hang on to the tumbling catch. "Saw it well and luckily it went in clean. Pretty happy," said the wicketkeeper.

It was only the fourth occasion a team has won a Test after being asked to follow on and the first time for New Zealand. England managed it twice, against Australia in 1894 and 1981, while India beat Australia in 2001. It was the first time England have lost a Test after forcing their opponents to follow on.

Two gripping days

A topsy-turvy Test match swung back to New Zealand during the final two gripping days. England were on course for victory after declaring their first innings on 435-8, then bowling out New Zealand for 209. Former skipper Kane Williamson dragged New Zealand back into the Test with a superb 132 in their second innings 483 on Monday, leaving England 258 to win.

Having resumed at 48-1, England wobbled Tuesday morning by losing four wickets for just 27 runs before Joe Root steadied the ship by steering his team to 168-5 at lunch. As England chipped away at their target, Root's partnership with Ben Stokes ended on 121 when England's captain was caught at square leg. The pressure on England intensified dramatically after Root went for 95 with England still 57 runs short.

Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes kept England in the fight with a cavalier 35, surviving a dropped catch by Michael Bracewell before clubbing three fours to the boundary. After Foakes was caught by Wagner in the deep off Southee, it left the last pair James Anderson and Jack Leach still needing seven runs for victory. Anderson clubbed a four to get within two runs before Wagner and Blundell combined to land the knockout punch.

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