NZ claims historic pink ball test win over England

Tuesday, 27 Mar, 2018

It was another case of England undoing some much-improved work in their second innings, and a third instance in succession too of a hammer-blow wicket falling to the final ball of a session - this time leaving Woakes with only the tail for company for a further 31.3 scheduled overs.

For New Zealand Neil Wagner, Todd Astle and Trent Boult took three wickets each.

The final wicket came in the next over, James Anderson (1) hitting Astle straight to mid off to spark exuberant New Zealand celebrations.

Half centuries by Mark Stoneman (55) and captain Joe Root (51) allowed England to start the last day at 132-3, evoking memories for New Zealand of the corresponding test here in 2013.

England batted defiantly on the final day, but were unable to overcome their poor start to the match.

This time Wagner rose again, his snorter to Chris Woakes the decisive moment of day five and his wicket celebration was television gold, face contorted in unbridled emotion.

But they weren't good enough and New Zealand were well worth the victory, achieved with threatening dark clouds surrounding the ground.

Ben Stokes, who had done so well in getting to 66 batting through the first two sessions with staunch defence, tried to upper cut a short ball from seamer Wagner.

The decisive stand though came between Stokes and Woakes as they batted nearly the entire second session adding 83 runs.

England captain Joe Root has dismissed rumours that Australia may have tampered with the ball during the recent Ashes series.

This pink ball venture was two years in the making, since New Zealand played in Adelaide in late 2015 for a hefty prize purse, and almost ruined Australia's big party.

Only a few weeks before he walked out to bat in the first innings at Auckland, Cook was lambing on the family farm. If we go back to that first innings we were very good in the lengths we bowled but we were also fortunate in the edges we found. They say things have to get worse before they get better, well England pushed that to the limit with the 58 all out at Eden Park even if their second innings effort restored some respectability.

Astle played a vital role.

New Zealand have now won seven and drawn two of their past 10 home matches, while England's disappointing away record has stretched to 12 matches without a win. "He was playing very, very well, an innings that perhaps wasn't to his true nature in terms of the stroke player that he is and he knuckled down and batted a long period of time and kept us out for a long time", Williamson said.

New Zealand had 32 overs left in the test to take the last three wickets.

Asked why England struggled so mightily to deal with the moving ball in the first innings, Root replied: "I think we just didn't adapt quickly enough to the conditions, that is disappointing".