HEIST AT HEADINGLEY

Running out of superlatives to describe that innings from Ben Stokes. The context in which he got England through to victory was nothing short of sensational. One can’t think of the kind of impact he has had on World Cricket over the past couple of months. He has been the shining star in the English summer. From his World Cup heroics to the Ashes saving innings he has grown leaps and bounds as a cricketer and his stature has risen to another level. To leave the horrific shadows of 2016 T20 World Cup Final in India where he conceded 24 runs in the final over which resulted in England losing the epic clash against West Indies and to being where he is at the moment personifies the character of the man. His sheer grit and indomitable spirit helped England level the series 1-1 with two matches to play.

Stokes exults after hitting the winning runs

This loss will haunt Australia for a long time as they were the firm favourites after bundling out England for a paltry 67 runs in the first innings. England faced an uphill task of scoring 359 runs in the fourth innings and the openers managed to contribute just 15 runs. It was left to two Joe’s to resurrect the innings, they survived a wonderful spell of pace bowling by the Aussie quicks and stitched a 126 run partnership for the third wicket to keep England in the game. Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow looked to run away with the game as they had a 86 run stand for the fifth wicket but soon after lunch on Day4 things changed dramatically as England was reduced to 286/9. Australia were just 1 wicket away from retaining the Ashes but Ben Stokes had other plans. He started to farm the strike and in between hit some delectable shots much to the delight of the capacity crowd at Headingley. Some of the outrageous shots he hit included a switch hit for six off Nathan Lyon’s bowling. More drama unfolded with just 2 runs left as Lyon couldn’t grab the ball to run out Leach and the very next ball there was a l.b.w. decision that went against Australia which replays showed was crashing into the stumps. Australia only had themselves to blame as they wasted the review on Leach that too on a ball that was clearly pitching outside leg stump and they ran out of reviews from there on. After what transpired in the closing stages of the match it seemed that England were destined to win.

This win has now made this Ashes series even more interesting with two matches to play. England can breathe a sigh of relief for now but have a lot of work to do if they want to win the series at home as Australia looks a better balanced side especially after Steve Smith set to return for the next game. This Ashes series has once again proved why Test Cricket is at the pinnacle of this beautiful game of Cricket.

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