England on Sunday pulled off a remarkable one-wicket win against Australia in the third Test thanks to Ben Stokes’ remarkable batting display. Stokes remained not out at 135 as he led his side’s batting to successfully chase the highest ever total for England.
England resumed their overnight innings of 156-3, but Joe Root departed early on bringing Jonny Bairstow to the crease. Both Stokes, who had played cautiously on Saturday, and Bairstow played aggressively on Sunday and added 88 runs for the sixth wicket.
Bairstow fell to Hazlewood by playing a knock of 36 runs. His replacement Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes both departed by adding one run each. Jofra Archer gave hope as he hit Nathan Lyon to two back-to-back fours but he too could not last long.
By then, Stokes was beginning to run out of partners, prompting him to go for the big shots. He sent Lyon to two huge sixes including one using the reverse shot. Stokes completed his century by driving Hazlewood to four. He then followed it up with two successive sixes.
Stokes was dropped twice, first at 33 and then at 116. He also survived an LBW appeal when he was batting at 131. The replay showed that the ball would have knocked off his leg and middle stumps. But Australia had lost all their reviews. Hazlewood finished with 4-85 while Lyon took two and Cummins and Pattinson scalped one wicket each.
Speaking about his century knock, Stokes said, “Never give up, it’s not over till it’s over. When Leachey came in it was pretty clear what had to be done. He’s made 92 as a night watchman so I backed him, knowing what he had to do. But I couldn’t watch the balls going down to him at the end.”
Aussie captain Tim Paine said, “Ah look, it happens mate. Ben Stokes has played one of the great innings. It’s got to sting but we have to trust our process, we were very close. We are on the right track and we have two more chances to win the Ashes.”
Stokes’ partner Jack Leach told BBC, “Are you expecting to get some sense out of me right now? I got off the pitch and then thought, ‘What has Ben Stokes just done?’ I was running towards him after he hit the winning runs and it was the best feeling ever.
“I just tried to take one ball at a time. I tried to back up and get two when Ben wanted two. I just wanted to do my job and take it down into smaller chunks. That 92 at Lord’s really helped, that’s how I batted then too. It definitely helped me. I learned if you break it down to one ball at a time, you can get through. And this crowd were amazing.”
England were 286 when they lost their 9th wicket. Ben Stokes and Jack Leach added 76 runs for the last wicket with Stokes scoring 75 of them alone.
More to follow