Ben Stokes' counterattack keeps England in 1st Test against Team India | Crickit
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Ben Stokes' counterattack keeps England in 1st Test against Team India

By, Hyderabad
Jan 25, 2024 10:04 PM IST

Almost every time, England are in crisis, the skipper steps up.

Not many will think about taking on the R Ashwin-Ravindra Jadeja pair on a turning track in India. When operating together, the duo is usually relentless. Ben Stokes, however, dared to take up the challenge on Thursday, with England in trouble on the opening day of the Test series against India.

England's skipper Ben Stokes plays a shot(ANI )
England's skipper Ben Stokes plays a shot(ANI )

Almost every time, England are in crisis, Stokes has a knack of stepping up -- who can forget the match-winning unbeaten 84 in the 2019 World Cup final or the 103 against South Africa in 2022 or the Ashes heroics... The memories seem endless.

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To add to his list of heroic efforts, the talismanic player produced yet another fighting effort to give England a total to defend. Down at 155/7 and in danger of being all out for less than 200, he took them finish at 246 with an innings of 70 (88 balls).

Coming in while England were in the middle of a collapse, the left-hand batter started cautiously -- taking 53 balls to hit his first boundary. But, as he lost partners, he switched into top gear and launched a stunning counter-attack.

He singled out Jadeja for special treatment. In the first over of the left-arm spinner after tea, he smashed him for 13 runs with two sixes. Before the break, he had three fours off him for another 13-run over.

With turn on offer, Jadeja was in his elements by getting three key wickets in the form of Ollie Pope, Joe Root and Tom Hartley. But Stokes messed up the stingy left-arm spinner’s figures. When he reached 56, he had scored 36 off those against Jadeja, who finished with analysis of 18-4-88-3. The Indian spinner's economy of 4.88 was his worst in a Test innings where he has bowled more than 10 overs.

Playing in his first game after undergoing a knee operation, the England captain showed no signs of discomfort and played with ease during his knock.

He got going against Jadeja with a switch hit to the point fence for his first four in the 53rd over. Soon he was unstoppable. He reached his half-century from 69 balls with an almighty six down the ground. Even Ashwin was not spared, lofting him clean down the ground.

The highlight of the effort was how he batted with the tail, adding 41 (39 balls) with Mark Wood, and 38 with Tom Hartey to stretch the total. India have started their innings strongly but given they will bat fourth, it gives England a chance of an upset.

It was also interesting to see how the England captain backed newcomer Tom Hartley when he was being targetted by Yashasvi Jaiswal, starting with two sixes in his first over.

Hartley had a tough debut with figures of 9-0-63-0 but Stokes kept him on, showing he had confidence in him.

Opener Ben Duckett said Stokes wanted to make Hartley get the confidence that he belonged to the international stage. "You know what Stokesy is like. He will throw him the ball today and back him all day," said Duckett.

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