Pink ball debut? Tick. Test win? Tick. Thoroughly crushing victory? Tick tick, as New Zealand went 1-0 up in their two-test series against England in the most emphatic manner tonight.

England, needing 369 just to make New Zealand bat a second time at Eden Park, were dismissed for 320, New Zealand winning by an innings and 49 runs.

''It was a brilliant match for our team in all departments,'' a delighted New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said. ''It was a fulfilling test.''

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New Zealand did cut it close, the ground being covered by thick black clouds well before Todd Astle finished his best day in test cricket by taking the last of his three wickets with 18.5 balls to spare.

The day before the match, Williamson was asked to assess the season to that point.
Essentially he thought overall it had been pretty decent but he wasn't getting ahead of himself.

Todd Astle of the Black Caps celebrates after claiming the wicket of Jonny Bairstow of England during day five of the First Test match between New Zealand and England. Photo / Getty
Todd Astle of the Black Caps celebrates after claiming the wicket of Jonny Bairstow of England during day five of the First Test match between New Zealand and England. Photo / Getty

If New Zealand go on to win this series, the answer will be far more emphatic.

And it was a case of history not repeating for New Zealand last night.

They had been unable to get rid of England's 10th wicket in the closing overs on their nerve-jangling last test visit to Eden Park five years ago.

It was an ideal way for New Zealand to both mark the 50th test at Eden Park – doubling their win tally on the ground against England in 17 matches – and the inaugural pink-ball test in this country.

What is it about this hard-to-love test ground which attracts cracking contests?

This was the third in succession, after the England draw of 2013, which went to the last ball, and the 40-run win over India in a sunlit final session a year later.

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The day, on which England began at 132 for three, went in fits and starts.

New Zealand took three of the seven wickets they needed in the first session. So far so good.

Then none in the second until the last over of the period as Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes put together a defiant stand of 83.

On what was effectively a third-day pitch, and batting was comfortable and the pink ball rarely deviating, England had become a decent chance to hang on for a draw.

Then Stokes, who had been staunchly defiant through four and a half hours, had a brain explosion. With four balls left to dinner, he tried to lift Neil Wagner over point, where Tim Southee took an awkward catch.

That changed the mood. New Zealand were suddenly in full whoops and hollers mode.

Wagner and Astle, in just his third test since 2012, finished things off.

Neil Wagner of the Black Caps celebrates after claiming the wicket of Ben Stokes of England during day five of the First Test match between New Zealand and England. Photo / Getty Images.
Neil Wagner of the Black Caps celebrates after claiming the wicket of Ben Stokes of England during day five of the First Test match between New Zealand and England. Photo / Getty Images.

Wagner forced the impressive Woakes to pop a catch to short leg; Astle had Craig Overton lbw, then clinched the win as Jimmy Anderson bizarrely drove a catch to deep mid off before being swallowed up in a joyous huddle.

Astle deserved a cheer. He had his first chance in the 69th over and saw man of the match Trent Boult drop a sitter at deep mid on off Jonny Bairstow.

No matter, Williamson sprang to his right at mid wicket in Astle's next over and Bairstow was gone.

Astle's reward was three for 39 off 16.1 overs and he got better, maybe more confident, as the evening wore on.

Wagner was simply Wagner, full of beans and well up for the fight.

Boult won man of the match and despite two fine centuries from Williamson and Henry Nicholls no argument there.

His six-wicket rout of England on day one set the stage; his clutch dismissal of England's captain Joe Root at the death on Sunday night rammed home his immense value.


For the full scorecard, wagon wheel and Manhattan/Worm click here

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