It took England just 95 minutes to claim the four wickets they needed for victory on the final morning of the second Test here in Wellington.
Monty Panesar took the match-winning wicket when Brendon McCullum heaved the spinner to Ryan Sidebottom at long on, to give England their first overseas victory in 10 Tests and Michael Vaughan his first for more than three years. England were worthy winners and the 126-run triumph leaves the series beautifully poised at 1-1 going into Saturday's deciding Test in Napier.
The win fully justified the policy of the selectors, who dropped Matthew Hoggard and Stephen Harmison to give Vaughan's side something of a shake-up. Sidebottom was once again England's bowling star, taking 5 for 105 in New Zealand's second innings, and it was fitting that he took the catch that took his side to victory. Sidebottom did not let go of the ball, proudly raising it aloft as he led his side from the Basin Reserve.
Sidebottom's wicket tally in the opening two Tests of the series has now risen to 16 and he will receive most of the plaudits. But the introduction and performance of James Anderson and Stuart Broad should not be understimated. The pair added vitality and optimism to England's cricket, commodities that were missing in Hamilton 10 days ago. Instead of making excuses for underperforming senior players England are now talking positively about a bright future.
The fifth day began with the Black Caps requiring a further 198 runs to complete a record-breaking win. Never before had a team successfully chased down a target of such magnitude, 438, but the hosts probably should have had one more high-quality batsman to help them achieve the unthinkable. The light at the Basin Reserve was fading quickly on the fourth evening when Sidebottom ran in to bowl the second over with the second new ball, and in the minutes before the umpires felt that conditions were unacceptable Jacob Oram edged a sharp catch to Kevin Pietersen in the slips. In the time it took Daniel Vettori to get out to the middle and face one ball the umpires deemed the light had deteriorated further and took the players from the field.
The actions of the umpires angered Vettori. With three undefeated Test century makers remaining the New Zealand captain would have believed that rewriting history was still a possibility. But with just two quality batsmen left it only needed one ball to expose the Black Caps tail.
And that is how it turned out. Vettori could have no complaints about his dismissal, edging Sidebottom's fifth ball of the final day to Alastair Cook at third slip. Cook's team-mates were delighted to see him take the sharp chance because the fielder himself had erred the previous day when England had put in a shoddy fielding display. In all Vaughan's side missed seven wicket-taking opportunities. Five catches of varying difficulty were missed, as was a run out and a stumping opportunity.
Sidebottom's wonderful tour continued when he trapped Kyle Mills in front six overs later. Mills had already survived a couple of close lbw appeals and it was just a matter of time before umpire Rudi Koertzen ruled that one such delivery would have gone on to hit the wickets.
The wicket encouraged the aggressive McCullum to play even more shots. McCullum's half century was brought up when he cut Broad over the slips for four. He then hooked the same bowler over deep square leg for six. With a player of his quality at the crease a fielding side can never relax, as Vaughan would be fully aware. Vaughan is the only surviving England player to have played in the remarkable Christchurch Test of 2002 when Nathan Astle smashed Test cricket's fastest double century to give English hearts a flutter.
And Vaughan might have been wondering whether history was about to repeat itself while Mark Gillespie dug in for almost an hour to give McCullum deserved support. But Gillespie's resistance ended when he edged an Anderson delivery to Tim Ambrose, the worthy man-of-the-match for his first innings hundred.
With 127 runs needed for victory and with Chris Martin, arguably the worst batsman in Test cricket, at the other end, McCullum had no option but to look for boundaries and with his first attempt he holed out to long on.
Sidebottom, the shaggy haired left-arm seamer, continues to be a source of huge inspiration throughout England's tour of New Zealand, but credit must also be given to Anderson and Broad. Anderson set up England's victory by taking 5 for 73 in the first innings and Broad highlighted what a bright future he has ahead of him during an excellent 12 over spell either side of lunch on day four. Broad bowled an immaculate line at Matthew Bell and Stephen Fleming, playing in his final Test at his home ground, dismissing both in one over.
The Wellington crowd gave Fleming a warm send off as he walked off the Basin Reserve for a final time, and it was only when he got within 20 yards of the boundary edge that he waved his bat to say thank you and goodbye. He still has the final Test in Napier to score what would be an emotional hundred before he retires.
* The former England batsman Marcus Trescothick has withdrawn from Somerset's pre-season tour to Dubai after suffering a recurrence of a stress-related illness.
New Zealand won toss
England – First Innings 342 (T R Ambrose 102, P D Collingwood 65; M R Gillespie 4-79).
New Zealand – First Innings 198 (R L Taylor 53, D L Vettori 50no; J M Anderson 5-73).
England – Second Innings
(Friday: 4 for 0)
A N Cook c Fleming b Mills......... 60
177 min, 137 balls, 7 fours, 1 six
*M P Vaughan c McCullum b Mills......... 13
43 min, 38 balls, 2 fours
A J Strauss lbw b Oram......... 44
137 min, 88 balls, 3 fours
K P Pietersen run out (Martin, TV replay)......... 17
56 min, 38 balls, 2 fours
I R Bell c Sinclair b Oram......... 41
132 min, 83 balls, 4 fours
P D Collingwood lbw b Gillespie......... 59
165 min, 116 balls, 10 fours
†T R Ambrose b Oram......... 5
24 min, 16 balls, 1 four
S C J Broad c McCullum b Martin......... 16
36 min, 39 balls, 1 four
R J Sidebottom c How b Gillespie......... 0
4 min, 4 balls
M S Panesar c Taylor b Martin......... 10
33 min, 21 balls
J M Anderson not out......... 12
15 min, 11 balls, 2 fours
Extras (b6 lb5 nb5)......... 16
Total (415 min, 97.4 overs)......... 293
Fall: 1-21 (Vaughan) 2-127 (Cook) 3-129 (Strauss) 4-160 (Pietersen) 5-219 (Bell) 6-231 (Ambrose) 7-259 (Broad) 8-260 (Sidebottom) 9-277 (Collingwood) 10-293 (Panesar).
Bowling: Martin 24.4-4-77-2 (nb1) (3-2-3-0, 7-0-33-0, 8-2-16-0, 6.4-0-25-2); Mills 23-5-59-2 (nb1) (2-1-1-0, 6-2-15-1, 7-1-15-1, 3-1-7-0, 5-0-21-0); Oram 20-9-44-3 (1-0-3-0, 6-4-9-0, 7-4-22-1, 6-1-10-2); Gillespie 15-1-63-2 (nb1) (6-0-25-0, 5-1-19-0, 4-0-19-2); Vettori 15-2-39-0 (nb2) (2-0-8-0, 8-1-19-0, 5-1-12-0).
Progress: Third day: 50: 70 min, 17 overs. 100: 135 min, 31.4 overs. Lunch: 106-1 (Cook 50, Strauss 31) 33 overs. 150: 215 min, 50.3 overs. Tea: 177-4 (Bell 22, Collingwood 6) 62 overs. 200: 294 min, 70.2 overs. New ball taken after 80 overs at 223-5. 250: 356 min, 85.2 overs. Close: 277-9 (Panesar 6) 94.1 overs. Fourth day: innings closed 10.45am.
Cook's 50: 139 min, 104 balls, 5 fours, 1 six. Collingwood's 50: 150 min, 107 balls, 8 fours.
New Zealand – Second Innings
J M How c Bell b Sidebottom......... 8
26 min, 22 balls, 1 four
M D Bell c Ambrose b Broad......... 29
141 min, 96 balls, 5 fours
S P Fleming b Broad......... 31
119 min, 76 balls, 5 fours
M S Sinclair c Bell b Anderson......... 39
77 min, 51 balls, 7 fours
L R P L Taylor lbw b Sidebottom......... 55
99 min, 78 balls, 8 fours
J D P Oram c Pietersen b Sidebottom......... 30
119 min, 97 balls, 4 fours
†B B McCullum c Sidebottom b Panesar......... 85
186 mins, 116 balls, 9 fours, 3 sixes
*D L Vettori c Cook b Sidebottom......... 0
10 min, 7 ball
K D Mills lbw b Sidebottom......... 13
27 mins, 21 balls, 4 fours
MR Gillespie c Ambrose b Anderson......... 9
51 mins, 39 balls, 1 four
CS Martin not out......... 0
2 mins, 0 balls
Extras (lb11 w1)......... 12
Total (433 mins, 100.3 overs)......... 311
Fall: 1-18 (How) 2-69 (Bell) 3-70 (Fleming) 4-151 (Sinclair) 5-173 (Taylor) 6-242 (Oram). 7-246 (Vettori) 8-270 (Mills) 9-311 (Gillespie) 10-311 (McCullum)
Bowling: Sidebottom 31-10-105-5; Anderson 15-2-57-2 (w1); Broad 23-6-62-2; Collingwood 9-2-20-0; Panesar 21.3-1-53-1; Pietersen 1-0-3-0.
Progress: Fourth day: lunch: 42-1 (Bell 18, Fleming 15) 21 overs. 50: 101 min, 22.3 overs. 100: 183 min, 40.4 overs. Tea: 145-3 (Sinclair 39, Taylor 35) 49 overs. 150: 217 min, 49.5 overs. 200: 279 min, 64.1 overs. Bad light stopped play 4.55-5.03pm 218-5 (Oram 23, McCullum 27) 70 overs. New ball taken after 80 overs at 241-5. BLSP 5.45pm.
Umpires: S J Davis (Aus) and R E Koertzen (SA)
Result: England won by 126 runs