Ashes: Ben Stokes posts brilliant unbeaten ton as England win epic third Test

Updated: Aug 26, 2019, 09:31 IST | AFP |

Sensational Ben Stokes hits a stunning unbeaten century as England defeat Australia by one wicket to win an epic third Ashes Test at Headingley

England's Ben Stokes celebrates a thrilling one wicket win over Australia at Headingley in Leeds yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
England's Ben Stokes celebrates a thrilling one wicket win over Australia at Headingley in Leeds yesterday. Pic/Getty Images

Leeds: Ben Stokes was the hero yet again as his incredible unbeaten century saw England to a thrilling one-wicket win in the third Ashes Test at Headingley yesterday. England — all out for a woeful 67 in their first innings — were 286-9, still needing 73 more runs to reach a victory target of 359 when bespectacled No 11 Jack Leach walked out to bat to join Stokes at the crease. Leach, however, held firm with World Cup final winning batting star Stokes's astonishing 135 not out seeing England complete their highest successful fourth innings chase as they squared the five-match series at 1-1.

"There's nothing like being out there in the end and getting your team over the line. I didn't get nervous till we needed single figures, I didn't know what to do then," admitted Stokes. Australia, who would have retained the Ashes had they won, missed a clear chance to run Leach out when Nathan Lyon failed to gather a throw and then paid dearly for squandering a review. All-rounder Stokes eventually flayed fast bowler Pat Cummins for four to seal a famous victory arguably even more improbable than England's celebrated 1981 Ashes Test success at Headingley when they won after following-on.

It's happened before
This was only the fourth time a team had made more than 300 to win in the fourth innings of a Test at Headingley. "It was a very special feeling. Stokesy was unbelievable. It was like nothing I've ever seen before. And the crowd was insane," admitted Leach. Australia captain Tim Paine said: "Ben Stokes played an unbelievable innings and in the end he was too good for us."

As Leach looked on, Stokes went into one-day mode by driving off-spinner Lyon for two straight sixes and then produced a stunning reverse against him that sailed high over deep point. Stokes's extravagant scooped six off Cummins reduced the target to 40. Despite Paine having scattered all his fielders to the boundary, Stokes pulled Josh Hazlewood for four to complete a remarkable century — his second in a row after his 115 not out in the drawn second Test at Lord's.

Run out chance
But a single left Leach on strike with two balls left in the over. The first of those sailed over Leach's head and the next saw Australia waste a review for a ball that pitched outside leg stump. England now needed eight — or two boundaries — as Stokes faced Leach. The third ball of the over saw Stokes drive Lyon for a six that just cleared Marnus Labuschagne at long-on and England needed two to win. A colossal mix-up between Stokes and Leach should have seen the No 11 run out but Lyon fumbled the return.

Lyon then had an LBW appeal against Stokes turned down by umpire Joel Wilson only for replays to suggest it would have been out. But Australia had used up all their reviews. England still needed two to win but Leach, who made a career best 92 as night watchman in a recent Test win over Ireland, was on strike to Cummins. Leach though managed a single that tied the scores as he got off the mark after 59 minutes at the crease. And Stokes then cut Cummins for a boundary to seal an
astounding triumph.

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