New Zealand scores innings victory over England in 1st test

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—File Photo


AUCKLAND: New Zealand atoned for one of its most frustrating recent failures when it beat England by an innings and 49 runs in the first cricket test on Monday to take first points in the two-match series.

The New Zealanders bowled out England for 320 in the final session, after leading by 369 runs on the first innings and after England started the last day with a 267-run deficit and seven wickets in hand.

Trent Boult took 3-67 and claimed match figures of 9-99 after taking 6-32 in the first innings when New Zealand set up its victory by bowling out England for 58 in 95 minutes.

Third seamer Neil Wagner bowled 32 overs in the second innings innings, making a number of vital breakthroughs and finishing with 3-77. And legspinner Todd Astle quadrupled his tally of test wickets when he took 3-39, including the last wicket to fall when James Anderson holed out to Boult in the 127th over.

Earlier, captain Kane Williamson scored 102, a New Zealand record 18th test century, and Henry Nicholls reached 145 not out as the hosts posted 427-8 in reply to England’s palrty first innings before declaring on the fourth day.

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.

On that occasion, England started the last day with six wickets in hand and batted through the day to save a draw with one wicket standing. Memories of that match surfaced Monday when England’s New Zealand-born allrounder Ben Stokes batted throughout the first two sessions to make 66, his 13th half century, before falling to the last ball of the second session.

Then Chris Woakes took over and made 52 before being the penultimate wicket to fall. Both batsmen stood as obstacles to New Zealand’s victory and nerves frayed as fewer than 20 overs remained when it was achieved.

Wagner dismissed Stokes with the last ball before tea, then claimed Woakes to propel New Zealand to only its 10th test victory over England and its second in the last decade.

Stokes, playing his first test since his suspension over an incident outside a nightclub in Bristol last September, stayed at the crease almost 4-1/2 hours and shared an 83-run partnership with Woakes.

But the tireless Wagner and unheralded Astle shared the last few wickets to regain the ascendancy for New Zealand.
“It was a fantastic performance,” Williamson said. “If you go back to that first England innings … that was a great start for us.

“We knew we were going to have to work hard against a quality England side in terms of their bowling attack and taking wickets in the second innings which they showed was very difficult to do.”

Astle played a vital role. Now 31, the Canterbury leg-spinner played his first test for New Zealand in Colombo in 2012, returning match figures of 1-98. He had to wait four years before his second test appearance against Pakistan in Christchurch in which he neither scored a run nor took a wicket.

Astle was given another chance to launch his test career when he was chosen for the current match as a replacement for injured all-rounder Mitchell Santner.

He had to wait almost four days before he was first called to the bowling crease Monday by Williamson. Astle rewarded his captain with the wicket of Jonny Bairstow (28) before tea. He then dismissed Craig Overton (3) and Anderton (1).

England batted defiantly on the final day but was unable to overcome the poor start to the match.

“We weren’t good enough, simple as that,” skipper Joe Root said. “We have to learn some lessons quickly.

“More than anything we have to make sure we adapt quicker. We knew it might swing and seam around and we didn’t cope with it very well.”

The second test begins in Christchurch on Friday. —AP