26 Nov 2019

It was close to Santner's favourite Test match

5:51 am on 26 November 2019

Mitchell Santner isn't sure if that was the favourite match of his Test career, but the Black Cap has to admit the win over England by an innings is "not far off".

Mitchell Santner appeals on Day 5. 1st Test match. New Zealand Black Caps v England. International Cricket at Bay Oval, Mt Maunganui, New Zealand. Monday 25 November 2019 © Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Black Caps all-rounder Mitchell Santner. Photo: PhotoSport

The Black Caps clinched the win by an innings and 65 runs at Bay Oval in Mt Maunganui to go one up over England in the two Test series.

The victory was all the sweeter for having been some kind of revenge over an English side which had won - just - the Cricket World Cup against the Black Caps this year, as well as the heroics of Santner.

The all-rounder scored a hard-fought century, his first in Test cricket, knocked off the top of the English batting order with three wickets before the close of play yesterday to put the English on the back foot, and then took a stunning catch in the covers, diving full-length to his right, to continue a period of play which saw three wickets fall in six runs and put paid to any chances England had.

Captain Kane Williamson lauded Santner and wicketkeeper BJ Watling's double century which really set up a dominating lead in the first innings; England managed 353 on a relatively toothless pitch, but Santner and Watling grafted to get New Zealand to 615.

"The key was to get partnerships, and the boys stuck in there at the end. We tried to build as much of a lead as possible and hoped the wicket would do funny things on day five," Williamson said.

Santner himself put the win down to several stages; the hard work of the batsmen on day's three and four as they kept working to increase the lead, then a couple of quick wickets to rock the English.

Finally, he says, the New Zealand bowlers 'backed up' all day, applying pressure to the English batsmen even if the pitch gave them little help.

"We knew the key was to get a couple of early poles (wickets). We had a nice lead but it was a good pitch to bat on."

He also singled out Neil Wagner's sustained aggression in bowling on the final day to take 5-44 in 19 overs.

"It was an unbelievable spell - a couple of quick, late wickets, and so well-deserved."

New Zealand's Neil Wagner celebrates the wicket of England's Ollie Pope during the fifth day of the first cricket Test between England and New Zealand at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.

Neil Wagner celebrates the wicket of Ollie Pope during the fifth day of the first cricket Test between England and New Zealand at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui. Photo: AFP

Santner was reluctant to mention another tuning point - his full-length diving catch to remove Ollie Pope for just six; a wicket that rocked any chance England could hold on and bat all day for a draw.

"To be honest, I was just happy to be in a catching spot, rather than out patrolling the boundary - as I was pretty tired.

"I stuck out my right mitt and was lucky it stuck. It was the start of a very good spell from Wags (Neil Wagner)."

He believes England will come back fighting hard when the series moves to Seddon Park in Hamilton on Friday.

"They are never an easy team to beat. At Hamilton, we don't know what the pitch will do. It has been green in the past.

"But we are in a good spot at the moment and the lads are fighting hard.

"We will have a few days off then come back with guns blazing come Friday."

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