Ben Stokes has done it again! The all-rounder’s dream run continues as he guided England to a famous victory in the third Ashes test by one wicket. He added 76 runs for the last wicket with Jack Leach to snatch victory from the jaw of Australia at Headingley, Leeds.
Chasing 359 for to win the game, England looked done and dusted after they lost nine of their batsmen with 286 on board. But Stokes had other plans on his mind as he played possibly the greatest innings of his career so far and went on to win the match single-handedly for his team. With his second successive century, the 27-year-old scored all the 76 runs of the last wicket partnership and made sure Leach faces least of the deliveries.
With a score of 245/4, the hosts were cruising at one stage. Nut quick wickets of the lower middle-order mean Australia reassured their grip of the game. With a wicket to win and 76 to defend, the likes of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood sensed blood and came all guns blazing. But Stokes firmly stood his ground and raised the scoring rate at a dramatic rate. Such was the brilliance of his batting that the ‘Three Lions’ scored the last 76 runs in just 62 balls.
Earlier in the game, England had a positive start as they bundled Australia out for a low total of 179 in just 52 overs. Jofra Archer was the start of the play as he rattled the Australian batting and earned his first 5for and returned with the career-best figure of 6/45. David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne had shown some resilience with the scores of 61 and 74 respectively. Other than them only the skipper Tim Paine had reached the double-figure with a score of 11.
Sensing an opportunity to take a lead in the game, the English openers took the crease. But they failed to brush away their dismal run in the ongoing Ashes as Cummins and Hazlewood struck early to reduce the home team to 10/2. From there on, the bowlers from down under continued with their onslaught and kept taking wickets at regular intervals. Hazlewood was the start of the pack as he earned the figure of 5/30. Wickets in quick succession meant a deserted condition of the scoring board as England could manage a meagre total fo 67, their lowest ever in the history of Ashes.
Conceding a lead of 112, the home team had a task cut out for them in the second innings to stand any chance of winning the match. The bowlers fared reasonably in the initial overs as they had Australia struggling at 52/3 within 15 overs. However, Marcus Labuschagne again made full use of his selection and contributed a vital 80 to the Australian total. Finishing at 246, the touring team gave the hosts a target of 359 to chase.