With Sri Lanka placed at 231/6 in pursuit of a gargantuan 660 after the fourth day of the ongoing Boxing Day Test at Christchurch, New Zealand are on the verge of registering their biggest ever Test win in terms of runs. The Black Caps need to take the remaining four wickets for less than 174 runs to achieve the record win, and barring a miraculous fightback from the visitors, they are well on course to do so.
On that note, here is a look back at New Zealand’s five biggest wins in terms of runs as of today, all of which have come in the 21st century.
Beat Zimbabwe by 254 runs, Second Test, Bulawayo, 2016
A stellar batting display laid the base for New Zealand’s biggest Test win by runs. Martin Guptill (87) and Tom Latham (136) put the Zimbabwean attack to the sword with an opening stand of 169, before Latham added another 160 for the second wicket with captain Kane Williamson (113). Ross Taylor (124*) and BJ Watling (83*) joined the run fest too with an unbroken stand of 193, powering the total to 582/4.
Craig Ervine (146) and debutant Peter Moor (71) helped Zimbabwe recover from 147/5 to 362 in reply. Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi (4/60) was the pick of the bowlers for New Zealand. Fifties from Williamson (68*) and Taylor (67*) enabled a declaration at 166/2 and ensured an improbable target of 387 for Zimbabwe, who capitulated from 97/3 to 132 all out in the face of Sodhi and part-time off-spinner Guptill.
Beat West Indies by 240 runs, Second Test, Hamilton, 2017-18
Leading the two-match series 1-0, New Zealand rode on fifties from Jeet Raval (84) and Colin de Grandhomme (58) to post 373 after being put in to bat. The West Indies responded feebly and folded for 221, with only captain Kraigg Brathwaite (66) showing enough resistance. The hosts’ four pacers shared the wickets between them, with left-armer Trent Boult (4/73) being the most productive of the lot.
Armed with a substantial lead of 152, New Zealand cemented their position with a total of 291/8 in the second dig. Ross Taylor, later named man of the match, was the top-scorer with an unbeaten 107. The West Indies crashed to 80/5 in their chase of 444, and even though Roston Chase struck 64, the result was never in doubt. It was a collective effort with the ball again, as four bowlers took at least two wickets each.
Bradley-John Watling’s second-innings 120 was instrumental in delivering a 199-run win for New Zealand at Headingley in 2015 (source – Philip Brown / Reuters)
Beat West Indies by 204 runs, First Test, Bridgetown, 2002
The Kensington Oval witnessed New Zealand’s maiden Test win in the Caribbean, which, following a draw in the second Test, also translated into a historic series win. Skipper Stephen Fleming led from the front, scoring a resolute 130 and sharing in a sixth-wicket stand of 108 with wicketkeeper Robbie Hart (57*) to improve the score from 117/5. Hart added important runs with the tail, swelling the total to 337.
New Zealand’s pace attack reduced the Windies to 47/4, before the left-arm spin of Daniel Vettori (4/27) condemned them to a mere 107. In spite of Pedro Collins’ 6/76, New Zealand moved to an impregnable position due to Nathan Astle (77). Chasing 474, the hosts were bowled out for 269, with Chris Gayle and Brian Lara making 73 each. Speedster Shane Bond (5/78) completed his fifer by taking the final wicket.
Beat England by 199 runs, Second Test, Headingley, 2015
This was New Zealand’s first Test win in England in 16 years, and one that gave them a share of the two-match series. Latham (84) and debutant Luke Ronchi (88) came together at 144/5 and built a stand of 120, boosting the eventual total to 350. England too ended up with 350, somewhat squandering a great platform provided through a 177-run opening stand between Adam Lyth (107) and Alastair Cook (75).
New Zealand gradually took charge by a producing a strong second-innings performance. Watling formed the pivot in a total of 454/8 with a breezy 120, while Guptill (70), captain Brendon McCullum (55) and Mark Craig (58*) also played key roles. A deflated England stumbled to 62/4 in the 455-run chase, before the innings wound up at 255 after tea on the final day to hand New Zealand a memorable win.
Beat Sri Lanka by 193 runs, Second Test, Wellington, 2014-15
Sri Lanka’s pacers, led by Nuwan Pradeep (4/63), restricted New Zealand to 221, with Williamson (69) giving a glimpse of what was to follow. Kumar Sangakkara then scored a glorious 203 out of 356, rescuing his team from a dire 78/5. When New Zealand lost their fifth second-innings wicket in the second session of the third day, they were ahead by only 24. Watling walked out to join Williamson at this juncture.
The two Ws staged one of the great turnarounds in Test history by adding an unbroken 365 – a new record for the sixth wicket – that led to a declaration at 524/5. Williamson finished with a career-best 242*, while Watling proved to be the ideal foil with 142*. This epic stand left Sri Lanka with a target of 390, and despite an unbeaten 62 from Lahiru Thirimanne, the visitors could muster no more than 196.