In what can be termed as one of the greatest Test innings ever, Ben Stokes slammed an incredible 135 not out to single-handedly lift a miserable England to victory from an impossible position and keep the hosts' chances of claiming the Ashes alive. Thanks to Stokes' genius, the series is now tied 1-1 and the Aussies are shell-shocked.
Chasing an improbable 359, the game seemed to be over for England by all means after skipper Joe Root fell early in the day to a freakish dismissal. With the lower order then crumbling after a significant partnership between Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, England found themselves at 286 for 9, with 73 needed for victory when the last man Jack Leach joined Stokes at the crease
Against all odds, the last pair added 76 in 10.2 overs to pull off one of the greatest comeback wins in Test cricket. Stokes manoeuvred the strike in brilliant fashion, and took on Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon in no-holds barred fashion, winning both the contests hands down. Leach's contribution in the partnership was only one but the single that he took tied the Test match, after which Stokes dispatched Cummins through the off-side and brought out a roar.
Relieving the sensational win, an emotionally drained Stokes told Sky TV, "It was unbelievable and something I will never forget. I've got to take it all in. I'm not sure it will ever happen again. It's in the top two feelings I have ever had on a cricket field."
On how he would rate the Headingley knock in comparison to the World Cup final blinder, Stokes added it was right up there with the Lord's performance. The all-rounder hit an unbeaten 84 in the World Cup final to again bring England back from the brink.
Stokes added that performing under pressure is something he enjoys and takes the challenge head-on. " Being part of those challenges you get faced with, we are playing at the highest level and you don't expect anything else. There is nothing better than being there at the end and getting your team over the line. Has been incredible," he further said
The special player added that he never stopped believing even when everything seemed over for the hosts. "Never give up. It's never over until it's over. When Leachy came in, it was pretty clear what needed to be done. I was saying 'I'll take five balls and you take one'," explained Stokes.
Even as the cricket world was going ga-ga over him, Stokes ensured Leach got the credit he deserved. "Leachy has done it before -- he was the super nightwatchman who got 92, so I backed him and knew that he had the desire to keep the ball out. I wasn't nervous until we needed single figures but I couldn't watch at the end -- I was just waiting to see what happened," explained Stokes.
"They are probably the most crucial balls Jack is going to face in his Test career, so credit to him for doing that in a high-pressure situation. When it got down into the 20s, I thought I could rein it in a little but when it was up at fifties, sixties, seventies I thought I really had to go.
"I was so in the zone of what I had to do," Stokes was quoted as saying by Sky Sports website.
-By A Cricket Correspondent