The world changed upside down for Ben Stokes in two weeks. It was on the final day of the thrilling third Test at Leeds that the explosive all-rounder gave England a sensational one-wicket victory by adding 76 runs for the final wicket with Jack Leach. However, in a similar situation on the final day at Old Trafford on this Sunday (September 8), Stokes failed to repeat his heroics and fell for just one. And to add to the shock of his country’s supporters, Stokes walked off even before the umpire gave him out after nicking one to keeper Tim Paine.
Stokes came out to bat in the second innings with England critically placed at 66 for 3 while chasing 383. This match is crucial for both teams as whoever wins it will not lose Ashes 2019. But unlike at Leeds where he stayed till the end to hit a scintillating 135 not out, Stokes could last only five overs or so this time during which he faced 17 balls. It was off a delivery from pacer Pat Cummins that got an under-edge nick which though was not decipherable with naked eyes.
A lot depended on Stokes who has given England some memorable wins in recent times, including the controversial final of the ICC World Cup at Lord’s on July 14.
Stokes was expected to deliver on another Super Sunday
Surprisingly enough, Jason Roy and Joe Denly put up a valiant partnership and survived the first hour. But soon after, Roy was undone by an absolute peach by Pat Cummins, who went through the Surrey man’s gate in the 25th over. Stokes then arrived at the crease – perhaps later than he expected – to thunderous applause from the Manchester crowd, as they knew England’s hopes solely rested on his shoulders. He arrived with thunderous applause after Joe Denly and Jason Roy added 66 runs for the third wicket after England were reduced to zero for two.
Stokes started off with a defensive approach, just like he had done at Headingly but then the Cummins overturned things around. It was the second ball of the 31st over that the delivery from Cummins pitched around the off stump and came back off the seam to kiss the inside edge of Stokes’ bat even as he tried to leave it. Paine dove to his right to take the catch and then went up with a half-hearted appeal along with the bowler.
On-field umpire Marais Erasmus did not react and it seemed Lady Luck was going in England’s favour once again. But to the utter dismay of the England fans, Stokes was seen walking away and that left the Baggy Green ecstatic. England were left reeling at 74 for 4. There was pin-drop silence at the venue as England’s latest hero walked off but after a couple of occasions, destiny did not find its favourite child in the southpaw. That’s where the game is a great leveller.
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