Walking onto Bay Oval this morning, Mitchell Santner had never made a test century, and hadn't taken a test wicket since 2017.
Walking off Bay Oval this afternoon, and Santner had compiled a superb hundred, claimed three wickets in nine overs, and – possibly – produced a test-winning performance for New Zealand.
As he departed the field, he shared the adulation of the Mount Maunganui fans alongside BJ Watling, who similarly had a day that dreams are made of, as the Black Caps moved within seven wickets of a test victory over England.
Watling's historic 205, part of a record-breaking partnership with Santner, put the Black Caps into an unbeatable position on day four of the first test. Watling, in particular, batted England out of the test, then kept batting, and for good measure, batted a little bit more, as the Black Caps brought up their highest total against England.
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After 670 minutes and 473 balls, England finally got their man – but only because Watling had started to unselfishly up the ante, attempting to pile on as many runs as possible before a declaration. Remarkably, when Jofra Archer had him caught behind, it was the first time in 699 balls and 976 minutes of test cricket that Watling had been dismissed, having finished 105 not out against Sri Lanka in his last test innings.
His wicket was far too late for England, who were 262 runs in arrears when the Black Caps finally declared at 615-9, and Santner added to their misery before stumps, claiming three stunning wickets to reduce them to 55-3.
Any hopes of an English victory were swept off the table in the first session however, where Watling and Santner made the most of a (seemingly) lifeless pitch to demoralise the English bowlers.
The pair played just two scoring shots in the first half hour, as 45 deliveries went by without a run being scored. Archer bowled five maidens in a row, and after the first hour of play produced just 26 runs yesterday, today it offered only 19, and in 30 overs just 58 runs were scored.
Much like yesterday, the go-slow eventually proved profitable. The English bowlers were run into the ground – Archer's 42 overs by far the most of his first-class career – and it could have an impact on their freshness in the second test in Hamilton next week.
Santner, who had struggled the day before but fought through a short-ball barrage, was far more comfortable today as he reached his first test century, and quickly turned the screws, plundering five sixes to rapidly increase the run rate.
He added 261 with Watling – a New Zealand seventh-wicket record against all-comers – as the pair blunted the England attack for 500 balls. Both batsmen brought up their highest first-class scores, and while Santner holed out when trying to hit out against the bowling of Sam Curran, Watling pushed on, becoming the first New Zealand wicketkeeper to reach a double century.
It had been faultless batting all day to that point, with the Northern Districts man boosting his average over 40 in the process, and moving into ninth all-time on New Zealand's test run-scoring list.
It was a shame his innings had to end – swiping at Archer trying to adding to England's misery - and after Tim Southee's contractually obligated six, and a brief Neil Wagner flurry, the Black Caps declared, giving them just under four sessions to bowl England out for another test victory.
They'll resume tomorrow needing seven further wickets, and spin may be their path to victory. There was little pace or bounce on offer for the Black Caps seam attack, who initially found life just as tough as their English counterparts, but Santner continued a dream day by ripping through the English top order.
First, Dom Sibley was lured into a needless push, edged it to – guess who - Watling, and departed for 12. After 101 consecutive wickets in home conditions claimed by seamers, finally, a spinner had a reason to celebrate.
Santner had an even wider smile before stumps, removing the remarkably unconvincing Rory Burns, who top-edged a sweep into the hands of Colin de Grandhomme, and then in the final over, Jack Leach prodded forward, and the rebound fell to Tom Latham under the helmet, who took a stunning one-handed reflex catch.
Replays suggested Leach hadn't hit it but the nightwatchman didn't review the decision, sending England further into despair, but Santner - and the Black Caps - to new heights.