Incredibly, the Kiwis won the match despite being asked to follow-on. In fact this was just the fourth time in the history of Men’s Test cricket that a team won a match after following on.
England who were chasing 258 to win needed 57 to win at one stage with as many as 5 of their wickets intact. However the Kiwi bowlers led by left arm pacer Neil Wagner spoiled their party and helped the hosts win the match to tie the 2 Test series at 1-1.
Wagner took 4/62 in England’s second innings.
This is one match that will never be forgotten by cricket fans, much like the 2001 Eden Gardens Test between India and Australia, which India won by 171 runs after being asked to follow on. That in fact was the last time a team had won a Test match after following on, before the Kiwis beat England on Tuesday.
TimesofIndia.com here takes a look at the 3 smallest margins of victory in Men’s Test cricket and how those historic and unforgettable games unfolded:
1993 – West Indies beat Australia by 1 run in Adelaide
Batting first the Windies were bowled out for 252. Brian Lara was the only batter who managed to cross 50 (52). The pick of the Aussie bowlers was Merv Hughes who took 5/64. Australia in response couldn’t put up a strong batting performance. The hosts managed to make only 213, which gave the West Indies a 39 run first innings lead. Interestingly Merv Hughes was the top scorer for the Aussies, scoring 43 off 66v balls.
This was a match dominated by the bowlers. When West Indies came out to bat in their second innings, they were treated to some hostile bowling by both the Aussie pacers and spinners. Craig McDermott took 3 wickets, Hughes took 1, while off-spinner Tim May took a sensational 5 wickets for just 9 runs. The Windies were bowled out for 146, which left Australia a target of just 186 to chase.
But the Aussies were in for a rude shock. Curtly Ambrose (4/46), Courtney Walsh (3/44) and Ian Bishop (2/41) broke the back of the Aussie batting order, as their second innings was wrapped up for 184, handing the West Indies a 1 run win.
This margin of victory stood as the sole record for the smallest margin of victory in a Men’s Test match till February 28, 2023 – for over 30 years.
2023 – New Zealand beat England by 1 run in Wellington
England had won the first Test of this 2 Test series and were looking good to stun the Kiwis in their own backyard with a 2-0 series win. However, it was the Kiwis who had the last laugh in the second Test in Wellington, despite being under the pump for large parts of the match.
England batted first in this match and put on a mammoth 435/8 (dec). Young Harry Brook was the standout batter for the English, with a sensational 186 run knock. At the other end former captain Joe Root made 153 not out. Brooks and Root shared a 302 run fourth wicket stand. For the Kiwis, Matt Henry was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 4/100.
New Zealand in response had a torrid time in their first innings. Incredibly, captain Tim Southee, a fast bowler, was their top scorer with a 49 ball 73 run knock. Only 4 of the 10 Kiwi batters could reach double digits, as the hosts folded for 209, handing England a big 226 run first innings lead. Stuart Broad took 4/61, while James Anderson took 3/37 and Jack Leach took 3/80 with his left arm spin.
The Kiwis were asked to follow on and in their second innings they put up a much better display with the bat, scoring 483. Former captain Kane Williamson top scored with 132. Tom Blundell made 90, Tom Latham scored 83, Devon Conway made 61 and Daryl Mitchell made 54. That meant England were given a target of 258 to win the Test.
When England came out to bat, the Kiwis managed to strike at regular intervals. The visitors went from 39/0 to 80/5. However the target wasn’t a very steep one. They had finished day 4 at 48/1 and with a full day’s play left, they were still the favourites. At one stage they needed just 57 runs more with 5 wickets still in hand. But Neil Wagner, Tim Southee and Matt Henry turned the tide completely. England went from 201/5 to 256 all out, falling short of their target by 2 runs and handing New Zealand a 1 run win.
This margin of victory equaled the smallest margin of victory in a Men’s Test match.
2005 – England beat Australia by 2 runs in Birmingham
On this occasion England were on the winning side. This was the second Test match on Australia’s tour of England and Scotland.
England batted first and made 407. Opener Marcus Trescothick made a quickfire 90 off 102 balls. Kevin Pietersen made 71, Andrew Flintoff made 68. Shane Warne was the pick of the Aussie bowlers with 4 wickets for 116 runs. Michael Kasprowicz took 3/80, while Jason Gillespie took 2/91.
Australia responded with 308 in their first innings. Opener Justin Langer was the top scorer of this innings with 82, captain Ricky Ponting made 61, Adam Gilchrist was unbeaten on a 69 ball 49. This handed England a 99 run first innings lead. Andrew Flintoff and Ashley Giles both took 3 wickets, while Simon Jones took 2/69.
The Aussies needed to hit back hard with the ball and they did. England in their second innings could muster just 182. Andrew Flintoff was the top scorer with 73, while the next best score belonged to Trescothick and Ian Bell who both scored 21. Shane Warne was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 6/46. Brett Lee took the other 4 English wickets.
This meant that Australia needed 282 runs to win the Test match.
The momentum begun to shift yet again in the Australian second innings. The visitors went from 47/0 to 137/7. They were eventually bowled out for 279. Brett Lee and Shane Warne the two top scorers for the Aussies with the bat, making 43 and 42 runs respectively. Flintoff was the best English bowler, taking 4/79. He was able supported by Steve Harmison (2/62), Ashley Giles (2/68), Matthew Hoggard (1/26) and Simon Jones (1/23).
England won the match by 2 runs.