Cricket has been a game that tests player's persistence to accept failures as challenges and move forward transforming them to milestone successes. A similar fate happened to Ben Stokes, the bowler from Team England, at Eden Gardens. The ODI against India gave back his impressive stance, which was beaten bad in the same venue earlier. In the final venue of World T20 at Eden Garden, Carlos Braithwaite shattered the player hammering the fourth six in a row off his over. It was the knock that capped England's hopes to nick the cup. West Indies plundered Stokes taking the vital 19 runs in the final over of the match. It was much more than the turning point of the match. It was the end of England's dominance. A failure to restrict 19 runs in the final over of a match like World T20 finale is enough for a bowler to get depressed for some time.
However, his return to Eden Garden against the ODI with India gave him his long-yearned consolation. Batting for his team by the 39th over, he steered the inning as a batsman. England lost four wickets for 212 when he arrived at the crease. Stokes started with Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali, who could not hold on to their wickets for long. In the short stretch of about six overs, Stokes struck with immense momentum. He scored 29 of 51 runs, which they tallied in the stretch.
After Bairstow and Ali were down, with England reaching 263 for 6, Stokes came with his stronger strike. Only 5 overs were left when England still needed to scale up their score to 300 plus. It was this moment when Stokes salvaged the team. In the over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Stokes plundered a six to bring 14 in total. In the last five overs, he faced 15 balls to score 28 runs. It was the turning point for England and for Stokes too, who had his eight ODI half ton off just 34 balls. The strike made Stokes the man behind the challenging score against a team like India. But the story so far is only half told.
While India was on chase, Stokes again came back as a key player for his team to defend the score which he himself erected. By the last 15 overs, India required 129 runs to win the ODI at Eden Gardens. At this point, Stokes could not take the helm. He, in fact, gave away a momentum to Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav, who were steering India's inning to the right direction. Stokes bowled four overs and gave 9, 4, 11 and 12 runs respectively to India. He got the figures 1 for 56 in 8 overs. Pressure was still on England as India required 47 off 30 balls. It was this moment when Stokes created the turning point. He dismissed Pandya bowling with quite an ingenuity at the times of sheer pressure.
Stokes' next stance came in the 48th overs, which was the real game changer. India required 27 off 18 balls. He bowled a dot, gave a single, bowled a dot again and gave a single by the fourth delivery. It created a pressure on Ashwin and Kedhar Jadhav, the chasing batsmen. The situation gave a way to Ashwin's wicket and dropped India to an equation requiring 23 off 12, with eight wickets down.
In the last over, India required 16 runs with Jadhav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar on the wickets. The fate was clear for India. England defended their score to escape the ODI whitewash by 2-1 from the host. And a big credit goes to Ben Stokes. The knock of an unbeaten 57 and the crucial wickets of Kohli, Ashwin and Pandya ventured by Stokes were the major earning points for England. Now he can comfortably ease off the pain that World T20 final inflicted on him almost a year earlier.
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