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Regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

Ben: Was a tricky wicket to bat on

He top-scored with 89, took a blinder of a catch and then wrapped up the proceedings with two wickets

TT Bureau Calcutta Published 30.05.19, 09:26 PM
Ben Stokes celebrates during the match on Thursday

Ben Stokes celebrates during the match on Thursday Picture by AP

Ben Stokes certainly couldn’t have asked for a better start to his very first World Cup game.

He top-scored with 89, took a blinder of a catch and then wrapped up the proceedings with two wickets as England walloped South Africa by 104 runs on the opening day of the competition, at The Oval, beginning their campaign in style.

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In reply to England’s 311 for eight, all South Africa could manage was 207 in 39.5 overs.

The big strokes didn’t quite flow from the bats of this strong England line-up as they lost Jonny Bairstow in just the second ball of the game, while Jason Roy and Joe Root too perished soon after reaching their respective half-centuries. Captain Eoin Morgan and Stokes then focused on rotating the strike, backing it with timely blows to keep the scoring rate well over five.

Even after Morgan’s dismissal, Stokes looked completely unperturbed and made sure England got past 300 on what, according to him, was a “tricky” wicket.

“The message from the batsmen in the middle was that it was a tricky pitch to bat on, so the aim was to get to 300-310. Maybe 330. I was looking to just pace it.

“The hard length was difficult and the slower balls were digging in a bit. Towards the end, boundaries were really hard to get. But I guess psychologically getting over the 300-run mark really helped. And then our bowlers knew what to do and they executed well,” Man of the Match Stokes said during the post-match presentation.

Speaking about the stunning catch he took at the deep that led to Andile Phehlukwayo’s dismissal, Stokes said he panicked a bit as he felt he was in the wrong position.

“I was a little further in than I should have been. I panicked a bit, I guess. But I’ve the nickname, ‘The Claw’, and luckily it stuck,” the all-rounder said.

“I shouldn’t have been there and it was probably a regulation catch, but I was in the wrong position.”

Reflecting on the World Cup finally getting underway, Stokes, talking to Sky Sports, added: “We have had to answer questions about it for so long now. The day finally came and it was a bit of a strange feeling.

“I was so anxious for things to get going in my first World Cup. To come off with a win and phenomenal team performance, we can hopefully build on that and not rest on our laurels. But certainly, it’s been a great start.”

Captain Morgan, who hit 57, was obviously pleased with his team’s showing. “Delighted to be off and running in this tournament. It’s more satisfying than normal.”

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