Late strikes in the first two sessions of the final day gave New Zealand’s bowlers confidence they could finish the job, captain Kane Williamson said after they completed an innings and 49 run victory over England in the first Test on Monday.
England were dismissed for 320 early in the final session of the day-night Test match, the first in New Zealand, to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
The victory was set up with a brilliant swing bowling performance on the opening day when they dismissed England for a record low score of 58 in 20.4 overs.
Williamson’s attack, however, had to keep chipping away in England’s second innings, which lasted 105.3 overs longer than their first.
“We knew that we wanted to play the long game. We didn’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves,” Williamson said of entering the fifth day needing seven wickets as the visitors resumed on 132-3.
“We knew that we would need to work hard against a quality England side … in terms of taking wickets in the second innings. And they showed that it was very hard to do.
“We had a slightly older ball coming into today and we knew that it wasn’t going to do a lot for us. So it was important that we hit our areas and build that pressure.”
That pressure paid off three times in England’s second innings with New Zealand taking late wickets after the visitors had built profitable partnerships to frustrate their attack and defy their push for victory.
Trent Boult had Joe Root caught in the final over of the fourth day after he had scored 51, while Moeen Ali was trapped in front in the final over of the first session on Monday.
Ben Stokes was then caught by Tim Southee off Neil Wagner in the final over of the middle session after he had combined with Chris Woakes in a patient, low-risk partnership of 83 in almost 31 overs that had threatened to take the game away.
“I think the big part of it was taking wickets before the end of the sessions,” Williamson said. “The guys’ spirits were high and it was great to come out in the last session and do the job.”