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Ben Stokes Leads England to an Impressive Win to Level the Series



Ben Stokes Leads England to Level Test Series Against West Indies


Ben Stokes Leads England to an Impressive Win to Level the Series

A much improved performance from England saw them claim a 113-run victory in the 2nd #raisethebat Test against the West Indies. The series now stands 1-1 with everything to play for in the final test at Old Trafford. The England side sported a fresh look as they fielded a completely different pace attack with Wood, Anderson and Archer out and Broad, Curran and Woakes taking their places. Joe Denly had sealed his own fate and was the obvious choice to be replaced by skipper Joe Root. While Stokes might have regretted his decision to bat first in the opening test, Jason Holder would have most certainly regretted his decision to bowl first in this one after having won the toss. While conditions were overcast on the first morning, the pitch looked firm and suitable for batting. The English batting order made sure that Jason Holder paid for his mistake.

The West Indies did indeed find early success with the ball as England were 3 down for 81 when skipper Joe Root had just been dismissed for 23 in the 32nd over. However, that success was short-lived as they would not claim another wicket for another 93 overs. England could not afford another batting collapse, they had to bat long and bat big. That’s exactly what Ben Stokes and Dom Sibley did. It was good old fashioned Test cricket. At one stage, the run-rate was a little shy of 2 an over. Sibley, in particular, was resolute in defence and he dug in for the long haul. Stokes and Sibley shared a 269 run-stand and both notched up well-deserved hundreds. Dom Sibley eventually fell for a 120 of 372 balls after desperately trying and failing to up the ante. England declared with 469 on the board and yet again the star performer was Ben Stokes with a 176 (356) to his name.

England’s declaration meant that the West Indies had a few overs to bat on Day-2 and they ended the day on 32-1. The weather proved to be a spoilsport as the entirety of Day-3 was washed out. The West Indies were well positioned on Day-4 at 242 for 4. Roston Chase and Shamarh Brooks were well settled at the crease and the game was heading to what Stuart Broad might have called ‘a boring draw’. It was Stuart Broad, however, who put his money where his mouth is and brought England back into the game. He bowled an outstanding spell with the 2nd new ball late in the evening and claimed 3 crucial wickets. Chris Woakes too joined the party and the West Indies lost their final 6 wickets for just 45 runs. They had only just managed to avoid the follow-on and had left England a 182-run lead. Time was of the essence here for England. They had just a little more than a day to set a target and bowl the West Indies out.

And surprise surprise! Ben Stokes and Jos Butler were opening the batting for England in the 2nd innings. Yet again it was England’s man for all seasons, Ben Stokes, who set the game up for them beautifully. He could not have possibly played two more contrasting knocks in the same game. While he might have bored himself with the way he batted in the first innings, he bored no one with his innings in the 2nd. He raced his way to an unbeaten 78 of 57 balls, striking at a 136.84 in comparison to 49.43 in the first innings. England declared on 129-3 early on Day-5 after 19 overs and that left them with 85 overs and a pitch with uneven bounce to bowl the West Indies out. The West Indies, on the other hand, were faced with a target of 312.

England needed early wickets if they were to have any chance of winning. It was Stuart Broad once again who kept England in the game with another exceptional spell with the new ball. The West Indies’ top order crumbled pretty quickly as they were reduced to 37-4 in quick time. There was a glimmer of hope for the Windies when Brooks and Blackwood were at the crease. The duo shared a 100-run stand and both brought up fifties. But England’s superman Ben Stokes bounced Blackwood out just before Tea to bring England right back. Sam Curran too was rewarded for his consistent bowling as he pinned Brooks to his crease and trapped him in-front for LBW. Realistically, skipper Jason Holder was the last man who could hold fort for the Windies, but he too lost his castle to a ripper from Dom Bess. From thereon, it was only a matter of time before England knocked over the rest of the tail. In the end, it was a sharp catch from Ollie Pope at short-leg that wrapped up proceedings in fine fashion for England.

Ben Stokes was adjudged the Man of the Match for his 254 runs and 3 wickets in the game. England will be pleased with their performance in this game. They looked formidable with both bat and ball and dare I say that they will be favourites to win the series. The West Indies, in contrast, looked a little deflated in this game. Expect some changes in their side with injury concerns for Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph. It will be interesting to see whether Jofra Archer will return to the playing eleven after he was dropped for breaching the team’s bio-secure regulations, an act that former England captain Michael Atherton labelled as ‘foolish’. I’d assume Jimmy Anderson will be back as well after having been rested for this game. Stuart Broad too is a seasoned campaigner and has made a case for himself with his performance in this game. But who do England drop? It will be interesting to see.


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