Barest of all margins: New Zealand and England play out another classic, this time in Wellington
In what was a spectacle of a Test match, hosts New Zealand beat England by what former New Zealand cricketer-turned-commentator Ian Smith would call the ‘barest of all margins’. The Kiwis beat England by 1 run in Wellington to tie the two-match Test series 1-1.
New Zealand and England play out thriller in Wellington (AP)
By Rounaq Sehrawat: In what was a spectacle of a Test match, hosts New Zealand beat England by what former New Zealand cricketer-turned-commentator Ian Smith would call the ‘barest of all margins’. The Kiwis beat England by 1 run in Wellington to tie the two-match Test series 1-1.
The two cricketing nations played out another classic as ‘Bazball’ was put to the test in Wellington. The Test match had it all – quick-fire centuries by emerging superstar Harry Brook and the ever- reliable Joe Root, a classy hundred by Kane Williamson, a vintage bowling display from Stuart Broad and James Anderson, and a nail-biting finish to wrap up Day 5.
But this is not the first time that a high-profile New Zealand versus England has gone down to the wire. And when it comes to high-profile matches, it just doesn’t get bigger than an ODI World Cup Final. If we jog our memory back to 2019, the final of the ODI World Cup ended in the most dramatic way possible.
Having batted first, New Zealand set a target of 242 for England to chase, who were looking to win their first-ever ODI World Cup. The hosts started off poorly, losing their first four wickets after scoring 86 runs in 23.1 overs. However, a wonderful 110-run partnership between Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler got England back in the game.
With 15 runs needed in the last over of the match, the hopes of the nation were resting on Stokes’ shoulders as he faced New Zealand pacer Trent Boult. The Kiwis started the over off with two dot balls, amping up the pressure at Lord’s. On the very next ball, Stokes hit Boult for a six over midwicket, bringing the equation down to 9 runs off 3 balls.
What happened next will forever be etched in cricketing history. Stokes played Boult down the ground for a double, and was stretching to complete the second run when Martin Guptill’s throw deflected off his sliding bat and went over the boundary, gifting England six runs. With just two runs needed off the last ball, many thought the result was more-or-less decided in England’s favor. But England’s Mark Wood could not complete the second run and was run-out, leaving the hosts level on scores with the Black Caps.
Subsequently, a super over was to decide the winner of a World Cup final for the first time ever. But the drama did not end there. With two runs needed off the last ball, Guptill, the in-form batter, could not make up the ground and was dismissed with the scores level. England were declared winners of the World Cup because they hit more boundaries than the Kiwis in the final.
4 years later, New Zealand got their revenge on England by beating them by the margin of just 1 run at Wellington. With a target of 258, England ended Day 4 on 48/1 with opener Ben Duckett and night watchman Ollie Robinson in the middle.
New Zealand started Day 5 on the front foot, picking up four wickets in quick succession. A 121-run stand between Root and Stokes got England back in the game but none of them could guide the visitors over the line.
This time it was New Zealand pacer Neil Wagner, who wrote himself in the history books, as he took the decisive wicket of Anderson as wicket-keeper Tom Blundell pulled off a magnificent diving catch to seal New Zealand’s historic win in Wellington. Interestingly, this win also extends New Zealand’s recent incredible home record, having not lost a series at home since their 1-0 loss against South Africa in 2017.