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On This Day – Ben Stokes does the unthinkable in Ashes 2019

Ben Stokes, who had already helped England win the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, played a brilliant knock in the Ashes 2019 contest against Australia which helped England stay alive.

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On This Day – Ben Stokes does the unthinkable in Ashes 2019
Ben Stokes played a magnificent knock and his 135 helped England chase down 362, their highest successful run-chase in Test history.
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    The summer of 2019 was already proving to be glorious for one man and a nation. England, after years of heartbreak, finally managed to achieve their destiny by clinching the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup title in a pulsating final against New Zealand at Lord’s. Ben Stokes, born in New Zealand but helping England to the title, played one of the great knocks of the World Cup as 44 years of pain were eliminated. The nation was in a state of jubilation when Australia began their quest to retain the Ashes title.

    England were undone by a Steve Smith masterclass in Edgbaston and they managed to hold on to a draw in Lord’s. In that Test, Steve Smith was hit on the side of the neck by a 96 mph bouncer from Jofra Archer. This left him with a severe concussion and he was ruled out of the third Test. The match began disastrously for England, but such was the power of Ben Stokes that he proceeded to change the entire course of the match in stunning fashion.

    Out for 67, then history

    Australia were bowled out for 179 thanks to Jofra Archer’s 6/45. However, England were undone by some brilliant bowling from Josh Hazlewood who picked up 5/30 as the hosts were bundled out for 67, their lowest Ashes score since 1948. Marnus Labuschagne smashed 80 as Australia were bowled out for 246, giving England a target of 362.

    Joe Root and Joe Denly began steadily with fifties but at 177/4, the game seemed to be slipping away from the hosts. That was when Stokes decided to take matters into his own hands. The left-hander shared a partnership of 86 with Jonny Bairstow as England reached closer to the target. However, Bairstow’s dismissal for 36 saw a collapse of four wickets for 41 runs. With only one wicket remaining, Stokes decided to go into beast mode.

    Stokes unfurled reverse sweeps, picked his moments and smashed sixes at will. He rotated the strike brilliantly and notched up a brilliant hundred. England were nearing the target but with two runs needed, disaster almost struck. Stokes hit a ball to the fielder and Jack Leach, the non-striker, hared down for a single. He was sent back halfway down the pitch but in an incredible act of self-destruction, Nathan Lyon missed the run-out. In the next ball, Stokes missed a slog sweep and Australia appealed for an LBW. The umpire did not give it out. Australia had no reviews and replays indicated that the ball was hitting the stumps.

    Next ball, Ben Stokes crunched Pat Cummins to the boundary and England had achieved history. It was their highest successful chase in Test history and it was the first time a team had won a Test after being bowled out for under 70 in 131 years.

    At the same venue 38 years earlier, England were in a similar situation and were 500-1 odds to win the match. However, Ian Botham played a knock of such great magnitude that England won the match in dramatic circumstances. Botham’s all-round show with bat and ball helped England win the Ashes 3-1 after being 0-1 down. That series was labelled “Botham’s Ashes”. Now, in 2019, the new-age avatar of Botham had done something incredible. Indeed, 2019 was the ‘summer of Stokes.’

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