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Resilient And Calculative: We Are Running Short Of Superlatives To Describe Ben Stokes

image-lrt27natStokes in action vs India [AP Photo]

Two Slips, a leg slip and a short leg awaited Ben Stokes, as he walked out to bat against India in the first innings at Hyderabad. A rejuvenated Stokes had a mountain to climb when he came out to bat on Day 1, and he once again proved his doubters wrong with a resilient and a calculative knock.

There has been a narrative that Stokes has generally struggled against India in their own back-yard, and considering the stats in his last Test series in 2021, the narrative does hold true. The England skipper amassed a meagre 203 runs in 4 Test matches, at an average of 25.38. He looked jaded in that series, and was a pale shadow of his former self.

The similarities between Hyderabad and Headingley

However, come the 2024 series against the same formidable opposition and Stokes made sure that the demons of 2021 were left far behind in England.  His knock in the first innings reminded everyone of his famous Test hundred against the Australians in Headingley. Though he failed to score a hundred this time and was eventually dismissed for a gritty 70 off 88 deliveries.

The two knocks had so many similarities - A tough situation for the Englishmen with half the side back in the pavilion, and Ben Stokes the lone warrior standing tall for his side. Just like the Headingley heroics, Stokes started briskly, and looked shaky at the start of the innings. But as the innings progressed and he ran out of partners, the English captain decided to unleash his fury and took down the opposition bowling attack.


There at Headingley he went after Nathan Lyon, when all the hopes were lost for his side and the series was on the line. Here in Hyderabad, he went after Ravindra Jadeja and rattled the lines and lengths of the off-spinner. There at Headingley, Leeds, Stokes brought out his famous switch-hit against Lyon, and here today, the southpaw brought out similar shots to counter the threat of Jadeja and R Ashwin.

There was a great mixture of aggression and control in Stokes' innings and that has been the hallmark of his illustrious Test career. Irrespective of the Bazball playing style, Stokes curbed his natural instincts and played according to the match situation. But once he realised that the wickets are tumbling at the other end, Stokesy decided to unleash the Stokes-ball, and took England to a respectable first innings total.

It needed a brilliant seam-up delivery from Jasprit Bumrah to get rid off captain courageous, but by the time the English innings ended, Stokes had etched another brilliant Test knocks in his 10-year long Test career.