Barest of margins! New Zealand beat England by one run to draw series


England lost to New Zealand by one run in one of the all-time great finishes to the second Test in Wellington.

On a barely believable final day at the Basin Reserve, last man James Anderson was caught down the leg side off Neil Wagner when England needed two to win.

Anderson had joined number 10 Jack Leach with seven required, after Leach had added 36 for the ninth wicket with Ben Foakes.

After Anderson fended off a vicious bouncer from Wagner, he sensationally clubbed the next ball for four.

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Leach saw off an over from Tim Southee, leaving the stage set for Anderson, but Wagner’s fourth wicket drew a deafening roar from the Basin Reserve crowd.

Needing 258 to win the match and series, England calamitously slipped to 80-5, then after a stand of 121 between Joe Root and Ben Stokes, experienced another collapse of 3-14.

Foakes, Leach and Anderson almost got them over the line, but ultimately England lost a Test after enforcing the follow-on for the first time, the fourth such defeat in Test history.

It ends a run of six straight victories and denies them a seventh straight win, a feat last achieved by England in 2004.

For New Zealand, their first win after following-on earns a 1-1 draw in the series and protects an unbeaten home run that stretches back to 2017.

England’s next Test is against Ireland at Lord’s on 1 June before their bid to regain the Ashes begins on 16 June.

An almost entirely separate England squad begins a white-ball series in Bangladesh on Wednesday.

England’s entertainers beaten at last

This was a breathtaking conclusion to a memorable Test, played out to a rapturous crowd given free entry to the Basin Reserve.

England repeatedly state their commitment to making Test cricket entertaining, but this cannot have been in the script.

When captain Stokes enforced the follow-on on the third morning, New Zealand were 226 behind and England dominant.

What followed was a magnificent Kiwi comeback, with Kane Williamson making a classy century. The Blacks Caps’ total of 483 was the fourth-highest ever made by a team follow-on against England.

Beginning the fifth day on 48-1, England were favourites on a pitch that remained good for batting until a chaotic collapse of four wickets for 27, the nadir of which was Harry Brook being run out without facing a ball.

Root’s counter-attack and Stokes’ stoicism – he took 116 balls over his 33 – looked to have regained control, before the pendulum swung again.

Foakes hooked just over Michael Bracewell at deep mid-wicket when he had 12 and New Zealand’s short-ball plan became increasingly ragged.

The target ticked down, anticipation rose and, when Foakes finally made an error, the sight of 40-year-old Anderson walking to the crease was pure theatre.

It looked like he would hit the winning runs for the first time in his distinguished Test career, but instead England suffered only the second one-run defeat in Test history.

This loss will not derail England’s preparations for the summer Ashes. Their style is established and they are transformed from the team that was on a run of one win in 17 Tests this time last year.

Indeed, the biggest concern coming out of this Test is the state of Stokes’ fitness, with the all-rounder often hobbling and bowling only two overs in the match. (BBC Sport)

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