Ben Stokes leads England to victory

Wednesday 28th August 2019 06:53 EDT

Ben Stokes' astonishing 135 not out gave England one of their greatest victories to keep the Ashes series against Australia alive. Just as he dragged England through the super over against New Zealand in the World Cup, Stokes played one of the most incredible Test innings by an Englishman to level the series at 1-1.

In the chase of an England record 359 at Headingley, the home side still needed 73 when Stokes was joined by last man Jack Leach. Like he did in his innings six weeks ago to the day at Lord's, Stokes launched a stunning solo assault.

He planted off-spinner Nathan Lyon for three sixes and followed that up by hitting Josh Hazlewood for four, six and six in three consecutive balls, during which point he passed 100. With 17 needed to win, Stokes was dropped by a diving Marcus Harris. From the next over, with only two needed, Leach should have been run out, only for Lyon to fumble the ball and, from the very next delivery, Stokes could have been lbw, but Australia were out of reviews.

In the next over, Leach scrambled a single off Pat Cummins and, with one to win, Stokes hammered through the covers and sank to his knees in exhausted celebration. It means the series is level with two matches to play, with the fourth Test at Old Trafford beginning on 4 September.

The World Cup final was one of the most incredible games of cricket ever played, and for the scale of its drama, tension and heart-stopping finish to be matched in the same summer is barely believable.

At the centre of both was Stokes, who added to his growing legend by single-handedly maintaining England's hopes of regaining the urn. Not only that, but he added yet another classic memory to a ground steeped in Ashes history by matching the exploits of Sir Ian Botham in 1981. An expectant Headingley was full before play began and, even though at one stage England lost five wickets for 41 runs, as long as there was Stokes, there was hope.

The noise gradually cranked up with every run added in the last-wicket partnership, the Western Terrace growing in celebration with each ball that Stokes dispatched into the crowd.

As the winning runs were scored, the noise released matched the magnitude of the achievement.

When Stokes summoned the energy to drag himself from the field, he paused and soaked up the adulation, once again as England's magnificent match-winner.

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