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New Zealand's Neil Wagner (C) celebrates taking the final wicket of England's James Anderson (centre L) to win during day five of the second cricket Test match between New Zealand and England at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Image Credit: AFP

Neil Wagner took four wickets and held two crucial catches as New Zealand pulled off a 'Mission Improbable' by beating England by one run in the second Test on a nerve-jangling day five after being made to follow on.

It was only the fourth win in the history of Test cricket by a team asked to follow on, and the second time a team had won a test by a single run after West Indies beat Australia by the margin in Adelaide in 1993.

Having set England 258 to win, New Zealand's hopes had faded as Joe Root (95) and Ben Stokes (33) produced a 121-run stand to cut the deficit to 57 runs with five wickets in hand on a sunny Tuesday afternoon at the Basin Reserve.

Enter Wagner, who had both out slogging then nervelessly held catches in the deep to help remove Stuart Broad (11) and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes for 35.

Foakes's wicket left tailenders Jack Leach and James Anderson needing seven runs for victory, and Anderson smacked a boundary off Wagner to trim the margin to two runs.

Wagner came again and had Anderson caught down the leg side for four to trigger jubilation among the New Zealand players and fans.

"It's a special one this and we'll celebrate it well," said Wagner, who finished with 4-62 in the fourth innings.

"It's an amazing achievement and obviously everybody contributed, so hats off to everyone. That's what this team's about, just keep playing.

"That's just the characteristic of this team, we keep loving to fight for each other." The two-match series ended in a 1-1 draw, with England having won the first test in Mount Maunganui by 267 runs.

Brief scores
England, 1st Innings 435-9 dec. (Harry Brook 186, Joe Root 153; Matt Henry 4-100).

New Zealand, 1st Innings 200-9 (Tim Southee 73; Stuart Broad 4-61, James Anderson 3-37, Jack Leach 3-80).

New Zealand, 2nd Innings 483 (Kane Williamson 132, Tom Blundell 90, Daryl Mitchell 54; Jack Leach 5-157).

England, 2nd Innings 256 (Joe Root 95, Ben Stokes 33; Neil Wagner 4-62, Tim Southee 3-45).

Kane Williamson was named Man of the Match, having scored a brilliant 132 in New Zealand's second innings as the hosts put on 483 after England captain Ben Stokes enforced the follow-on.

"That game as a whole, in terms of what test cricket's about, was just incredible," said Stokes.

"'Wags' came on and blew the game open for them. Sometimes things don't happen the way you want them to but it was a good one, wasn't it?" The tourists' brilliant rookie batsman Harry Brook was named Man of the Series.

List of narrowest victories by runs in Tests
Following is a list of the narrowest victories by runs in Test cricket:

West Indies defeated Australia by one run in Adelaide in January 1993

New Zealand defeated England by one run in Wellington in February 2023

England defeated Australia by two runs in Birmingham in August 2005

Australia defeated England by three runs in Manchester in July 1902

England defeated Australia by three runs in Melbourne in December 1982

New Zealand defeated Pakistan by four runs in Abu Dhabi in November 2018

South Africa defeated Australia by five runs in Sydney in January 1994

Special One

England will wonder what might have been, after resuming on 48 for one in the morning.

Though Root and Stokes were culpable in their dismissals, the pair deserved enormous credit for steadying the chase after four wickets fell quickly.

Stokes threw the bat at a Wagner bouncer and top-edged to square leg where a running Tom Latham took the catch.

Root, who had batted beautifully in a 113-ball knock, also attacked Wagner, sending a miscued pull to Michael Bracewell at midwicket.

Broad tried to slog his team over the line but ramped Matt Henry straight to Wagner at third man to be out for 11.

Foakes and Leach carried England to within seven runs but Foakes pulled captain Tim Southee to fine leg where a scrambling Wagner took a low catch, leaving the tailenders exposed.

"Only a handful of sides have been asked to follow on and come back to win so I think it's a pretty special one," said Southee.

"I guess to be on the back foot after two days and the character being shown in the last three days ... has been very impressive."

List of teams that won a test after follow-on
Following is a list of teams that won a test match after being made to follow on:

2023: New Zealand won by one run against England on Feb. 28 in Wellington

2001: India won by 171 runs against Australia on March 11 in Kolkata

1981: England won by 18 runs against Australia on July 16 in Leeds

1894: England won by 10 runs against Australia on Dec. 14 in Sydney