England’s Ben Stokes played the most memorable innings of his lifetime to script an emphatic victory over arch-rivals Australia in the third test that also helped England to stay alive in the five-match Ashes series.

Stokes (135), who built a 76-runs partnership with Jack Leach gave England a stunning one-wicket victory against the Aussies.

England required 203 runs and had seven wickets in hand, and all hopes were on Joe Root who was leading his team towards an epic chase of 359 runs. But the Skipper left England stranded after an unbelievable catch by David Warner. Soon after, the team managed to overcome the loss of Root and looked all set to win the match as Bairstow joined hands with Stokes. England were at 238/4 at the end of first session and needed only 121 runs to win the test. Unfortunately, fate seemed to be on the side of Australia, when Bairstow was dismissed. Buttler’s run-out and the collapse of the middle-order (Woakes, Archer and Broad) gave lot of anxious moments to English fans. The home side was reduced from a stable 238/4 to 286/9 and all hopes were on Ben Stokes, who was batting with 61 (174 balls).

Odds were heavily against England as Australia needed just one more wicket to win the match. At that point, England needed 73 more runs to win the match. Even the die-hard fans hardly believed that their team would pull off this target. Some of them began to leave the stadium, while others logged out of live streaming.

But destiny seemed to favour the home side for the second time, as Ben Stokes started to take on Kangaroos with the help of Jack Leach. His strategy was very simple, retain as much of strike as possible, do not take singles except at the end of each over, respect good deliveries and just smash loose deliveries over the boundary.

Australia could not do much as they were competing with Ben Stokes’ determination. Chasing a target of 73 runs, Stokes was steadily building good innings for his team silently with powerful boundaries.

Then came ‘7 SIXES and 4 FOURS’ as he pulled off another 58 runs. He didn’t even require any contribution from Leach except a hurried single. Leach just had to face 17 balls out of 11 overs safeguarding his wicket.

Well, it was the end of an incredible match! Ben Stokes remained unbeaten at 135 as he steered his side to an emphatic victory at Headingley.

Harsha Bhogle summed up the spirit of the match with a tweet:

Let’s hope that Ben Stokes and his heroics survive long.

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