Bay Oval, Nov 26: New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson lauded his players for their patience and application, after the hosts defeated England by an innings and 65 runs in the first Test here and with it, took a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
New Zealand batted for a staggering 201 overs in response to England's first innings total of 353, and piled up 615/9 declared to set it up for the bowlers. With their strike bowler Trent Boult leaving the field due to rib injury after having bowled only one over on the final day, the other bowlers stood up to the task, with Neil Wagner leading the way with 5/44 to bundle England out for 197 in their second innings.
Williamson lauded his team's batting effort, which he felt gave enough time for the bowlers to freshen up. "To lose the toss and be 350 behind in the first innings required something special," Williamson said. "And it was something special for 200 overs to get us into a position which gave us a chance. To get 600 gave us that opportunity to bowl last on that wicket, so a huge amount of credit goes to the way the middle-order built those partnerships.
That was really important because they put in a lot of overs in that first innings. For the guys to freshen up proved really important without Trent as a resource." "The pitch started to deteriorate which is what you want to see in Test cricket. But when you do see that you want to have won the toss. This is certainly right up there in terms of a tough, grinding Test victory," he said.
Williamson cited lack of big scores as one of the reasons for England's downfall. As for the hosts, the skipper himself couldn't add much after registering his 30th Test fifty on day two, but he did have BJ Watling, the wicket-keeper, and all-rounder Mitchell Santner, who combined for a 261-run stand in 83.2 overs for the seventh wicket to virtually knock the visitors out of the contest. Williamson was in all praise for Watling, who notched up his maiden double century and batted for an astonishing 473 balls for his 205, an ICC report said.
"Scores of 50 and 60 weren't enough to turn the momentum from England's first innings," said the captain. "It did require something large and for a long period of time and that's what those guys did. It was a brilliant effort against a very strong England bowling attack.
It was outstanding to see that middle, lower-order apply themselves like that. BJ Watling is such a tough competitor and just cares about getting the team into a position to win cricket games."
"It goes a long way to him applying himself for near on 500 balls, which is an amazing effort. A lot of people wish they could bat 500 balls, including myself. It was a brilliant, brilliant performance and it took a huge amount of hard work scoring at two-and-a-half an over for the most part so it wasn't free flowing. For BJ and Mitch to keep soaking up that pressure was outstanding and something that is clearly very hard to do for everybody," Williamson said.
The second Test will be played at Hamilton's Seddon Park from November 29. The hosts, despite the 1-0 lead, would be sweating over the fitness of Boult and Williamson himself, who had left the field due to a nagging hip injury, before Wagner took the final two wickets.
"A lot was taken out of both teams in this Test," Williamson said. "It was a really tough effort for long periods. But we have that squad of 15 and all the guys will meet up in Hamilton and we will have to assess the fitness of everybody." (UNI)