New Zealand has clinched one of the great Test match victories, defeating England in Wellington by 1 run and becoming only the fourth team to win after following-on.

The victory tied the two-match series at 1-1, but the bigger question for England is the fitness of skipper Ben Stokes less than four months out from the Ashes series against Australia on home soil.

England batted first after losing the toss and declared at 8-435, before bowling the Black Caps out for 209.

They enforced the follow-on, but New Zealand hit back to make 483, setting a target of 258.

England began day five at 1-48, needing 210 to clinch the series.

They got as close as possible before James Anderson edged to the keeper to dismiss the tourists for 256 on tea.

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A dramatic first session of the final day saw England lose four wickets for 27 runs in the space of just under eight overs.

This included a nightmare call for a quick single by former skipper Joe Root, which left star batsman Harry Brook run out for a diamond duck without facing a ball.

But Root and Stokes then gathered themselves for a big partnership.

Stokes is a match-winning all-rounder, but he has pulled back on his bowling due to an ongoing issue with his knee.

England men's cricket captain Ben Stokes bends over in discomfort at the crease as he grabs hold of his left knee.
England’s Ben Stokes struggled with knee pain, scoring 33 off 116 balls before holing out to Tom Latham.(AP: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga)

In Wellington, Stokes brought himself on on day three in an attempt to make a breakthrough as New Zealand fought back after the follow-on.

However, his spell lasted just two overs, and he was later seen limping in the field. Coming in at 5-80, with the tourists needing another 178 for victory, Stokes dug in while playing a few shots.

It quickly became apparent that Stokes was in serious discomfort with his knee. He reverted to a method of standing and trying to hit fours. At the other end, Root would only take a single when Stokes could amble through.

The pair began to remedy the situation, with England at 5-168 at lunch, needing 90 more for victory.

Finally, a struggling Stokes tried to heave Neil Wagner to mid-wicket and skied it to Latham to be out for 33 off 116 balls.

This gave the home side a sniff of victory, and the Black Caps were right in it after Wagner struck again nine balls later, with Root out five runs short of a second century for the match after mistiming a shot on the leg side and offering a catch to Michael Bracewell.

Ben Foakes and Stuart Broad then took the target under 50, but there were more nervous times ahead.

Broad (11) played an aggressive innings but fell to paceman Matt Henry, caught on the boundary at third man after trying to ramp him.

Foakes was joined by tail-ender Jack Leach. Foakes turned down a string of singles as he tried to farm the strike, but he nearly paid for his approach when his shot to deep mid-wicket fell just beyond an out-of-position Bracewell for four.

The crowd, dominated by English fans, was cheering every run as the target got closer.

Skipper Tim Southee brought himself back into the attack with five minutes left before the tea break, and England needing just 14. He started with a wide, then Foakes cut him away for two and then a single before Leach dug out a final delivery.

A man looks out a window panel in a cricket scoreboard during a Test match, as the bowling figures can be seen next to him.
As the wickets tumbled on day five, the tension rose for everyone at the Basin Reserve.(Getty Images: Phil Walter)

It was 10 to win, with tea delayed — and it was left to Wagner to try and make the vital breakthrough.

Leach survived a review after avoiding giving an edge through to the keeper.

Southee returned, and a two to Foakes brought England’s target down to seven. But finally, the English wicketkeeper-batsman went for one four too many, holing out to Wagner in the deep for 35.

It was down to Leach and veteran James Anderson to get the runs.

Leach survived skying the ball between the fielders for a single, and Anderson dead-batted a rearing delivery from Wagner.

The 40-year-old number 11 then brought the crowd to its feet by hammering the ball to the boundary on the leg side.

Southee came back, and a Leach drive was stopped on the off by a diving Matt Henry. England needed two, and they nearly had one when a wide ball was not called by the umpire.

New Zealand celebrates with a bowler running towards the wicketkeeper who is lying down, as the dismissed batsman walks off.
Neil Wagner’s dismissal of James Anderson set off wild celebrations by New Zealand after their one-run victory.(Getty Images: Phil Walter)

Finally, Anderson was strangled down the leg side, and keeper Tom Blundell flung himself to his right to take a diving grab, giving Wagner his fourth wicket and setting off wild celebrations by the Black Caps.

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“It’s a special win this and we’ll celebrate what is an amazing achievement,” Wagner said.

“I think it’s just the character of the team. We love to fight for one another, find a way and keep on doing the hard yards out there.

“The first Test we didn’t get on the right side of it and they played well. I thought they played really well in the first innings here in really tough conditions but we just found a way of contributing and get in a good position and [this] is a special one.”

On the England side, the captain was disappointed but praised his team’s effort against Pakistan and now New Zealand.

“It’s obviously very disappointing to get a loss here with the great winter we’ve had,” Stokes said.

But “to be able to come away and win four out of five away from home is something we’ll take great pride in”.

“We’ve got a few months off before the Ashes [series against Australia] starts and hopefully we can get back to doing what we love doing.”