New Zealand captain had to swallow his pride after holding an upper hand on first three days of first Investec Test match at Lords. When New-Zealand lost in dramatic circumstances over the last two days, McCullum was confident that his team could still win playing in the same manner. He was proved right in the end as the Kiwis defeated England by 199 runs at Headingley. Under the stewardship of Mike Hesson and the captaincy of Brendon McCullum New Zealand have entered their best Test-match era, which has espoused attacking instincts with batting, bowling and fielding. These tactics have been dubbed as revolutionary and helped the Kiwis make smooth transformation from classical test match style to the fast-paced games of ODIs and T20. Under McCullum, Kiwis have achieved a run of seven undefeated test series beginning with victory over Bangladesh in October 2013 and extending to this drawn series against England. In between, they also won against West Indies at home and away, beaten India and Sri Lanka at home, and drawn with Pakistan in UAE. At Headingley on June 02, 2015, England were pushed to the wall on the last day and handed a 199-run comprehensive drubbing. In percentage terms, McCullum has emerged as the most successful New Zealand captain in edging out Geoff Howarth, under whom, New Zealand won 11 out of 30 matches. Mccuulum has led New Zealand to 9 wins in 24 matches at 37.50% and for another comparison with the legendary Stephen Fleming, McCullum is a few percentage points ahead as Fleming’s 28 win out of 80 test matches as skipper count for 35%. The most important thing about McCullum’s leadership is the unstinted esteem that he commands at home and abroad. Incidentally, New Zealand’s first victory against England came at Headingley more than 30 years ago and victory at Headingley test was their first against England in the 21st century.
Alastair Cook won the toss and asked New Zealand to bat first. Cook was delighted by his decision as James Anderson struck early blows to remove Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson for ducks by the third over. However, Tom Latham held one end to keep the scoreboard ticking. The innings progressed with contributions from McCullum, Luke Ronchi, Mark Craig and Matt Henry and New Zealand finished their first innings on second day at 350 all out. When England came on, they responded solidly with a first-wicket stand of 177 between Adam Lyth and Alastair Cook. However, later order batsmen couldn’t keep the momentum and except Stuart Broad’s 46, no one could stand to the bowling of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Mark Craig. England also made 350 and everything depended on the second innings.
In New Zealand’s second outing, first innings’ hero Tom Latham fell cheaply as did Williamson. But Guptill batted sensibly with support from Ross Taylor and McCullum until BJ Watling picked up the reign later. The Kiwis scored briskly with Watling racing to his century. Riding on useful knocks from Mark Craig, Luke Ronchi, Tim Southee and a cameo from Matt Henry, New-Zealand declared at 454/8 in 91 overs. Now England needed 455 for the win in the fourth innings.
The world-record run chase of 455 was never going to be easy as New Zealand began by pinning England openers by sending down six overs, five of which were maidens and they took the wicket of Adam Lyth. With Boult swinging the ball, England adopted defensive tactics to their own detriment. Boult took out the uncomfortable Gary Ballance and England were in real trouble. McCullum called off-spinner Mark Craig and he removed Ian Bell and Joe Root in a space of three deliveries with both of them falling to the leg-side trap laid by McCullum. Root had announced on fourth day evening that England could chase 455 but the slim chance turned into zero chance as England lost 4 wickets in an hour’s play on the fifth day. By lunch, England had lost 5 wickets but they could still extend the play through the last session by the nagging play by Cook, who kept his head down and lasted 171 balls for 56 before being trapped LBW by Williamson. Joe Buttler also emulated his captain by hanging on for 147 balls in scoring 73 but the Kiwi bowlers dominated the last session and bowled out England for 255. New Zealand emerged victorious by 199 runs to the utter delight of Brendon McCullum.
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