England lost one of the tightest finishes in Test history, losing by a single run at Wellington, and New Zealand are only the fourth side so far to win a game after.
The last man James AndersonHaving never hit the winning laps in 179 games, he was far from swinging the club once to achieve an unforgettable result for his side, but when caught by the leg from the weakest sides Neil WagnerAn exciting competition ended overwhelmingly for the tourists.
During the partnerships between them, they took control of the chase twice, eliminating for 256 who had followed 258 targets. Joe Root And Ben Stokes then Ben Foakes and Jack Leach.
Only once in 146 years cricket test Has a game resulted in a single round – in 1993 the West Indies beat Australia – making it an even more painful finish than England’s famous two-run victory at Edgbaston in the 2005 Ashes.
Remarkably, there is even discussion that this could fall as only the third-tied Test ever, with the penultimate ball of the match from Wagner dangerously close to wide.
In the end, the defeat was a particularly tame result, given England captain Ben Stokes’ decision to remake the Kiwis bat with a great lead of 226 laps on the bank on the third morning at Basin Reserve. After sending back the opposition, only three teams tasted defeat – the Australian classes of 1894, 1981 and 2001.
But Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum have had a remarkable record of success since taking office last summer with 10 wins from 12 after that defeat. And when measured for purposes of rekindling interest in the longest format, this was another box that was definitely ticked.
For Black Caps, who brought the series to 1-1 and kept their home six-year undefeated streak alive, the hero was Wagner, a 36-year-old sailor. He took four for 62, including Stokes and Root (95) in four game-changing delivery areas, and also had a nerve-wracking grip on the slender leg to knock impressive Foakes out of the game with just seven needs.
It was fitting that he snatched the final goal by slipping Anderson’s body and brushing the bat on the way, but he would certainly consider himself lucky that his previous delivery wasn’t called wide by referee Chris Gaffaney.
Continuing at 48 to one, the seeds of England’s troubles were sown in a sloppy first hour down to 80 in six. Night watchman Ollie Robinson took just three overs, opener Ben Duckett’s feet shone to glide on concrete, and Ollie Pope was completely unconvincing before he made a cut.
The most costly, however, was the loss of the out-of-form Harry Brook, who walked into the crease with a batting average of north of 100 in his previous five Tests and four centuries. One was his career-best 186 from first innings, which he made during a 302-lap stand with Root.
This time, their partnership in Yorkshire came to a desperate end, with Root heading off for a never-released single, while Brook evaded a ball. He ran after hitting the third slide when the shot came from Michael Bracewell, leaving Brook high and dry.
Root went a long way to make up for it, backing 153 with a perfect 95 and taking the game away from New Zealand, while he and struggling Stokes added 121 to sixth base.
But the pair of sets, England’s classiest and clutch finishers, both fell for Wagner’s well-known short ball tactics. Having visibly suffered from a left knee problem that limited himself to just two overs in the match, Stokes lost both his balance and his lower hand while being caught easily at 33.
Moments later, Root gave up his first career-dealing two-hundred point shot when he took a pull straight into the midwicket.
43 were still needed when Stuart Broad was behind the eighth man and Foakes came very close to playing a game-winning hand. Leach reprised his famous sidekick role at Headingley in 2019, while Foakes painstakingly smashed the target into a measured 33.
Wagner’s hands, without disappointing him, only had seven more to take when he hooked Tim Southee around the corner. Anderson came out at number 11, averaging Wagner four points with a midwicket, exciting traveling England fans.
One of these could have scored a more memorable win, but when he shoved Wagner into Tom Blundell he stood distraught in the middle and refused to review the motions of a DRS review.
New Zealand created a cheery circle of victory, with a remarkable comeback win built around their 483-lap second-inning back guards as England pondered their role in the trials.
Denying the sequel would certainly have kicked Black Caps out of the game and guaranteed a series win, but it was impossible to conceive of such a dazzling finale.