Even losses in Test cricket may seem like victories when it’s this fantastic.

In Test cricket, even defeats may seem like victories when things are this good.

India is defeated by Australia for 109 dominating the opening day of the third Test

At three in the morning, interesting things take place. Perhaps you witnessed the then-Conservative defense secretary Michael Portillo slowly make his way up a wooden platform before being ordered by a military officer wearing a ceremonial chain to leave politics at 3.10 am on May 2, 1997. However, set that aside. Were you game for Neil Wagner?

He stormed in, all big-hearted fury and handyman vibes, at the Basin Reserve on a freezing February night. Were you pulling on your second pair of bedsocks at that time? With your ear against the radio, were your hands around a cup of tea? Were you awake, sitting on the edge of the couch in the living room by yourself but still very much a part of the group of siblings and sisters who liven up their days and nights by watching Test cricket?

While it was disappointing to see Bazball’s extraordinary streak of six straight Test victories end, there was also a pinch-yourself joy at witnessing the end of one of the tightest Matches ever. This official in black pants and an umpire’s coat delivered the digit of doom for England.

That was only the fourth time a side has won after following on, and New Zealand’s one-run victory matched West Indies’ triumph against Australia in Adelaide in 1993. Not that any of it mattered as Wagner ran across the field like a man filled with a heady mixture of relief and adrenaline, with a hefty dosage of vindication on the side, following earlier been pummeled by England’s assault laboratory.

Similar to the Test, the day had seen ups and downs. Ben Duckett and Ollie Robinson, who had been in charge of things overnight, were let go early, and then came the nervous Ollie Pope, whose brief stay at the crease felt like it had been set up with bear traps at every step. Harry Brook left the non-end striker’s and raced straight back to the changing room without ever having to face the ball, thus Joe Root should bear full blame for Brook’s cartoon runout. The appropriate punishment appears to have been meted out to Root.

Although a humiliated Root is a dangerous Root, it seemed destined that he would atone for the sins of his hurried single as he cover drove like the king praline truffle in a box of pricey chocolates.

With all the grace a Friesian in a muddy field, he was followed by his hobbling captain who was trying to lift Michael Bracewell out of the ground while his knee was locking. But wouldn’t Stokes and Root carry it out? A 250-person chase in one day? Bazball made it seem simple. simple pickings.

The recent world Test champions, New Zealand, had different ideas. Stokes threw a frantic flail at Wagner as England inched closer to 200. After a run, Root had also perished for 95, becoming yet another victim of the Wagner bumper barrage. Ben Foakes managed to keep things moving along, but Wagner was everywhere and eventually caught both Stuart Broad and Foakes, allowing the final combination to score seven runs. That was not to be; on Ian Smith’s birthday no less; New Zealand exacted the slimmest of revenges.

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