Christchurch, Dec 30: With the massive 423-run victory against Sri Lanka here, New Zealand secured their fourth consecutive series win, a first for them in their 88-year history.
Stretching back to the Test series against the Windies in late 2017, New Zealand have had remarkable achievements, including their first series win over England in 19 years and their first overseas win against Pakistan since 1969.
Then at Christchurch’s Hagley Oval, against Sri Lanka, they registered their biggest ever victory in terms of runs, creating another record in the process – the longest ever series-winning streak in their 88-year history.
Undoubtedly, Kane Williamson was a proud captain when he got to know about what his team had just achieved. “That’s quite a cool thing to achieve,” he beamed.
“That wasn’t the focus, and if we do reflect on that a little bit, the positives of the different conditions we’ve experienced, the different opposition all come into the fact we’ve been able to get across the line and that makes it quite special,” he said.
In the first Test of the two-match series at Wellington, New Zealand were in a similarly dominant position until day four. But when Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis buckled in to bat the entire day, it diminished New Zealand’s chances of achieving victory and then play was washed out on the final day, an ICC report said.
Even in this Test, the pitch flattened out considerably after a frenzied couple of days but this time New Zealand were able to make the key breakthroughs.
However, when Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal joined hands for a 117-run stand spanning 53 overs on the fourth day, the hosts were worried.
It took a piece of brilliance in the field from a substitute player to snap the resistance. Williamson credited Matt Henry for making the difference with a sparkling low catch at short cover to get rid of Mendis off Neil Wagner’s bowling.
“Matt Henry’s catch was the key moment,” Williamson said.
“After the first session yesterday, there were signs of a déjà vu. But Henry came on. Being a substitute fielder, perhaps you’re not quite feeling the rhythm of the game, and it can be disruptive,” he said.
“But he was in the right position and it went to him and he was fresh as. That was cool,” said Williamson.
There were plenty of other achievements to laud – the big centuries by Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls, Tim Southee’s all-round showing, Trent Boult’s record spell of six wickets in 14 balls as well as Wagner’s relentless effort to break Sri Lanka’s batting order in flat conditions.
“So many contributions in this series and others that come to mind. Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls with the bat, and the whole bowling group that contributed in this series and the other ones as well,” Williamson said.
Latham came in for particularly rich praise for his overall returns in the series, featuring an unbeaten 264 at Wellington and 176 at Christchurch.
“Tom’s been outstanding in this series in particular,” Williamson chuffed.
“The way he was able to maintain his focus in terms of playing each ball on its merit for as long as he can and not get ahead of himself, or thinking that he’s in, or he’s done enough, was great,” he said.
“The contributions that he and Nicholls made – they both scored big hundreds. It was required for us to get in that position of strength in this game,” Williamson added.
The Insides Speak