Hobart: New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor praised his team's fighting spirit as the Kiwis pulled off a magnificent seven-run victory for their first win in Australia for 26 years at the Bellerive Oval on Monday.
Looking consigned to defeat with Australia closing in at 159 for two, chasing down 241 runs, the Kiwis roared back capturing eight wickets for 74 to humble their better-resourced rivals for a famous victory.
New Zealand have been constantly reminded that their last win in Australia was back in 1985 at Perth's WACA Ground when paceman Richard Hadlee was in his pomp. In fact, New Zealand's only two Test victories across the Tasman came in that 1985 series. New Zealand's previous Test triumph over the Australians was 23 Tests ago at Auckland's Eden Park in 1993.
So it was with relish that the rejoicing Kiwis celebrated by popping champagne corks on the Bellerive pitch hours after their amazing Test win and one toasted by Taylor. "I've had over 50 text messages on my phone, I think it's pretty big," Taylor said. "Rugby is obviously our number one sport but any sport against Australia and winning in Australia the New Zealand public enjoys.
"The New Zealand public knows the New Zealand cricket team, when it plays against Australia, is always the underdog but they don't like it when we don't show much fight. We didn't do it in Brisbane but we showed a lot of ticker today," the Kiwi skipper added.
In an incredible turnaround of just eight days, the Kiwis denied Australia after being crushed by nine wickets inside four days in the first Brisbane Test. It was Australia's first defeat in 10 Tests at Bellerive going back to 1989.
"We believed in ourselves that we could win this match, we know we had to fight, we had to play a lot better than we did in Brisbane," Taylor said. Taylor reserved special praise for 21-year-old seamer Doug Bracewell, playing in only his third Test but New Zealand's match-winner with six for 40 off 16.4 overs.
Bracewell turned the match around with the wickets of Ricky Ponting (16), Michael Clarke (0), Michael Hussey (0), James Pattinson (4), Mitchell Starc (0) and Nathan Lyon (9).
"He bowled outstandingly well for a young guy, 21, and to come in only his third Test and to get Ponting, Clarke and Hussey, that's something to tell your grandkids about," Taylor said. "Doug can hit the deck but also can swing it away and as captain you've got to go on hunches and I thought Dougie would bowl well, but not that well."
Taylor, in only his third Test as captain, backed his intuition and drew the very best out of his Black Caps team.
"We knew we needed wickets before lunch. I never batted well, but I never felt in on that wicket. So I knew it wasn't going to be easy to bat on that wicket; it was still nipping around on day four," he said. "So we knew that wickets fall in clumps and you still had to be as upbeat as possible. Whatever position we were in, we tried to believe in ourselves and we did."
Taylor said his role as skipper was to encourage his team's fight and national pride. "We did not show much fight in Brisbane, but we did show guts and determination out there today," he said. "That was for the New Zealand public and an early Christmas present, I guess."