Wellington: New Zealand had to fight really hard against an “incredible” England to reverse the momentum in the hard-fought second match, Kane Williamson said Tuesday after his side pulled off one of the greatest Test victories.
Following-on after conceding a 226-run lead at Basin Reserve, the former skipper batted more than seven hours in his knock of 132 to take them to 483, setting the visitors a 258-run target.
In a heart-stopping finish, New Zealand won the match by one run.
“It isn’t quite fair to be standing here after a game of cricket like that,” Williamson said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“The contributions we’ve seen from both teams, fantastic game of cricket to be a part of. For us as a team, we’ve been fighting away in the Test format for a while, it’s kinda nice to get across the line in this one
“You always try to do the best you can for the team and it’s never enough. We saw some really valuable partnerships to get us a total on the board and something to bowl at in the last innings. We had to fight really hard to reverse some of the momentum.
“This English team is playing incredible cricket at the moment. We were up against it coming into this game. To fight away, to complete and ultimately just get across the line is a nice feeling.”
Williamson notched his 26th Test century to become the highest Kiwi run-getter in the the longest format eclipsing Ross Taylor and was adjudged the ‘Player of the Match’.
Talking about his own innings, the former captain said,”I was just trying to stick to the basics. We knew we were going to be challenged. There is so much quality in this English attack and the pitch offered a little bit throughout.”
“Amazing pitch that set the platform for a fantastic game of cricket. ”
It was New Zealand left-arm pacer Neil Wagner (4/62) who did the star turn when he dismissed England’s last man James Anderson, caught down the leg to signal the Kiwi win.
Two years after they won the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship beating India at Southampton, the Blackcaps have struggled to cope with the rigours of the longest format and are currently out of contention for a place in the 2021-23 WTC final cycle.
Once considered invincible at home, New Zealand hit the nadir, losing the first Test to Ben Stakes’ side by 267 runs. They have slipped to eighth in the WTC standings, with Bangladesh the only side below them.
This is only the fourth time in Test history a side has won after following-on. The 2001 Eden Test in Kolkata was the last instance when India had secured an astonishing 171-run win over Australia after being forced to follow-on.
“Right up there, only a handful of sides have come back from the follow-on to win. Once it digests, the guys will soak it up,” said NZ skipper Tim Southee, who took over the captaincy from Williamson in December last year.
“The character they’ve shown in the last few days. The guys were calm, if we’d walked off and shaken hands and it wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t good enough.
“We couldn’t read too much into a day-night Test, the first two days here England were class, the openers stood up in the second innings, but Daryl, Kane, Tom Blundell… Typical Kiwi scrapping effort.
“Neil’s had a massive impact from trusting his best method, it came on this time. It’s great for Test cricket, the way England are playing, and it’s good for Test cricket going forward,” Southee added.
England skipper Ben Stokes said the incredible win by New Zealand showed what Test cricket is all about.
“The emotions we were going through and the Kiwi boys as well. Everyone’s got their money’s worth today. Disappointing to end on a loss but four out of five away from home is something we will take great pride in. A few months off and get back to what we love doing,” he said.