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22 Sep 2019 8:06
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Cricket

    Ben Stokes century powers England to Ashes-levelling win in third Test at Headingley

    Ben Stokes etches his name into Ashes history with an unbelievable century to steer England to a miraculous one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley to level the series at 1-1.

    Ben Stokes has etched his name into Ashes history with an unbelievable century to steer England to a miraculous one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley.

    England chased down an improbable 359 — the biggest successful run chase in the team's history — to stay alive in the series, now tied at 1-1 thanks to Stokes's innings of 135 not out.

    England started the day 203 runs away from the victory target and it looked like Australia had weathered Stokes's brilliance when he only had one batting partner left with 73 runs still required.

    But Stokes, as he did in the World Cup final, pulled off the impossible, pummelling the same bowlers that dismissed England for 67 in the first innings to all parts of the ground, scoring all but one of the runs in the 10th-wicket partnership to complete another Headingley miracle.

    Just as they were to Ian Botham during England's famous win in 1981, the long odds were a red rag to the bull that is Stokes, who farmed the strike expertly and cleared the fence seven times in the following nine overs to close the gap at a rapid rate.

    Number 11 Jack Leach did his job defending some admittedly underwhelming bowling by Australia's seamers, and surrendering the strike whenever possible for his 17-ball innings of 1.

    Australia wasted a golden opportunity to win the Test as it led by just one run in what turned out to be the penultimate over, when Stokes bunted behind point, there was a mix-up between the stumps and Nathan Lyon failed to cleanly gather the throw at the bowler's end with Leach halfway down the pitch.

    More salt was rubbed into the wound when the next ball trapped Stokes plumb LBW, but umpire Joel Wilson refused to raise the finger and Australia was unable to challenge, having wasted its last review on a poor LBW shout in the previous over.

    Leach tied the game with a single off the third ball of the next over and Stokes belted Pat Cummins through cover for four off the following ball to complete the miracle.

    Australia in box seat early in the day

    The end of day four was a far cry from the start of the day, which could hardly have started better for Australia, as a sequence of maidens built the pressure until something had to give — that something being Joe Root.

    The England skipper, who was not out on 75 overnight, charged at Lyon and played an uncharacteristically aggressive stroke, inside edging onto his own pad. The ball then spooned over Paine's head, forcing a fine diving catch out of Warner from first slip.

    But what looked like being a decisive early blow ended up being anything but.

    Jonny Bairstow joined Stokes at the crease and the game very quickly begun to change. England began to score quickly, especially once Australia took the new ball, and the bowling began to wilt.

    Australia's trademark accuracy deserted it, and the batsmen cashed in. The pair rocketed along until lunch, batting without risk but with intent, to arguably leave England in the better position at lunch.

    With the Test perfectly poised, Josh Hazlewood dialled it in again. Bairstow was given out caught behind in Hazlewood's first over of the session, only for a review to show there was no edge, but the Aussies wouldn't need to wait much longer.

    A short ball that seamed away from Bairstow drew the keeper's first false shot of the innings, and an edge that sailed gently to Marnus Labuschagne at second slip. He made no mistake.

    As so often is the case in games such as these, the one wicket brought many, with the pressure of the situation breaking England.

    Facing Lyon, Stokes bunted one to the on side and looked to call new partner Jos Buttler through for a quick single, but then sharply changed his mind and sent Buttler back.

    Buttler never stood a chance, but Travis Head's pick-up and diving, underarm direct hit made sure of it. His innings was sensational, but this moment of madness may have been Stokes's most telling of the day.

    Chris Woakes came and went quickly, softened up by a barrage of short balls before he meekly chipped a half-volley to Matt Wade at catching cover.

    But once again, Australia hit a worrying speed bump as Jofra Archer came out and started swinging freely, suggesting he could be of use to Stokes.

    He served a purpose, adding 15 runs thanks to some lofty hitting, but he went for one slog too many off Lyon and Head did well to take the catch cleanly on the mid-wicket boundary.

    Stuart Broad's stay lasted just two balls, when he was trapped plumb LBW by James Pattinson. He burned a review in hope, but he was incredibly out, bringing Leach to the crease with the team still 73 runs away from victory.

    And that was when Stokes decided to take his game to another level.

    Look back at how the thrilling victory unfolded in our live blog.

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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