It was a hot day at Leeds when England resumed their batting with 156 for 3. The target looked within reach as they needed 203 more with a solid Joe Root on 75 and a resilient Ben Stokes who scored 2 off 50 still on the crease. Notably mentioning that Bairstow and Buttler were yet to bat.
Australians on the other hand after a frustrating afternoon a day before were pretty confident that they will get the remaining 7 wickets by the day end to retain the ashes.
The Kangaroos had a clear plan in their mind that they if they want to win they must go hard at English batsmen and the executed their plan perfectly when they got rid of Joe Root very early after he could just add 2 runs on the fourth day.
Bairstow walked in next and helped England to steer the ship in the winning direction. With Stokes as his accomplice the pair added crucial 86 run partnership before Bairstow handed a dolly to Labuschagne at second slip. Buttler was the next man to stride in as Stokes completed his half century, but a bad call from Stokes found Buttler in no man’s crease and the Aussies do not miss any direct hits. Buttler was run out by a flawless throw by Travis Head and he departed after contributing just 1. England keep their heads cool and knew it still in their hands and they must not press the panic button just yet. In came Woakes, but Hazlewood was once again right on the money and sent Woakes back before he could do any damage.
The game which once looked in England’s hands was now tilting in favor of the Kangaroos. Jofra Archer was next in line with scoreboard reading 98 required with 3 wickets in hand., Archer who is not known for his batting prowess stood firm and tried to share the burden with Stokes, He added vital 15 runs before he was caught in the deep by Head.
England’s misery continued as Stuart Broad who was expected to provide stability as he has done in the past especially in Ashes, was cleared by Pattinson on a duck. Ben Stokes covered his eyes in horror as he saw one more of his partner departing with 73 still needed.
Leach was the last man to enter the scene, and the jubilant Aussies were determined to get him ASAP. Stokes had a long talk sharing his plan with him ‘five and one -I’ll take five and you take one but for now, survive this over’. Leach followed the instructions and successfully defended his wicket.
Stokes then carefully and steadily kept inching towards the target. He was near his century when Hazlewood was brought back into the attack, but he was humbled by the determination of the amazing English all-rounder who smashed him for 19 runs in an over completing his hard earned ton. Things went exciting when the target reached was just below 20 and Patt Cummins came to bowl his new over. Ben Stokes sliced it up to the third man and Marcus Harris dropped a sitter.
The English crowd went bonkers over this while the Aussies were left furious. Stokes then hit back to back boundaries and the Australians started panicking. On the last ball of the same over Cummins hit one on Leach’s pads and appealed for LBW. The on field umpire said not out and Aussies went for the review which showed the ball pitching well outside leg and they lost their last review out of desperation.
Next one was given to Nathan Lyon, with England requiring 8 runs. Stokes on strike, waited for a loose delivery and cleared the boundary with a six. But then the unexpected happened, Stokes played a reverse sweep and backward point grabbed the ball and found Leach in the middle of the pitch. The fielder threw the ball to Lyon but out of excitement he dropped it and dislodged the bales without the ball in his hands. The Englishmen took a deep breath but the Kangaroos were found kicking themselves.
The very next delivery Lyon’s flighted delivery was misread by Stokes and hit his legs who was going for the slog on the leg side. There was a huge appeal but the umpire shook his head in denial. The Aussies were disappointed once again. They had no reviews remaining and the hawk eye showed it was out. Australia still had a chance with Leach on the strike for the next over. With 2 to win Cummins stepped in and Leach managed a single on the 3rd delivery. Stokes was next on strike and he slapped the next ball with strong hands which flayed over the covers and England managed another miraculous win.
Stokes roared in ecstasy, with is arms up in the air in jubilation as he hugged Leach without whom he would have not achieved this victory for England.
Stokes remained unbeaten on 135 and snatched the victory away from the visitors. His sensational knock is touted as one of the greatest test knocks in recent times and once again Ben Stokes proved that he is one of the finest all-rounder right now in the whole World.