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Stokes fires Under-19s

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Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes celebrates his century. His innings of 100 occupied 88 balls and contained six sixes and four fours

Ben Stokes was the hero as England beat India by 31 runs to top Group A and set up a quarter-final clash with West Indies on Saturday in Rangiora.

Stokes blasted a thrilling century and then took 2-43 to help England complete a fine victory that seemed unlikely just hours earlier.

India now face an apparently tougher quarter-final against bitter rivals Pakistan, who topped Group D, in Lincoln on Saturday.

After losing the toss and being inserted on a Lincoln wicket that offered some assistance to the bowlers, England were up against it as India left-arm seamer Saurabh Netravalkar caused havoc.

Chris Dent was the first to go, caught behind off Netravalkar in the second over, soon followed by fellow opener Joe Root who fell in the same fashion to leave England 17 for two.

Jack Manuel and James Vince did their best to repair the early damage but England plunged further into the mire at 46 for three when the former became the third batsman to nick behind off Netravalkar, who finished with impressive figures of 3-25.

Just 14 more runs were added when England lost the key wicket of Vince for 29, the Hampshire batsman getting an inside edge as he attempted to drive Sandeep Sharma.

That wicket brought together Ateeq Javid and Stokes, who reshaped the match with a magnificent 100-run stand.

Wristy Warwickshire batsman Javid kept the scoreboard ticking along with some inventive flicks into the leg side, but he was eventually upstaged by Stokes who punished the India bowling.

The Durham all-rounder, who was born in New Zealand - the host nation, was patient during the early stages of his innings before cutting loose in spectacular fashion.

After registering his fifty in 61 balls, he needed just another 27 deliveries to reach a wonderful century that included six maximums, most of which landed beyond long-on.

His acceleration meant England, having just lost Javid for 42, powered on from 160 for five to add 86 in the last 10 overs.

David Payne & Harpreet Singh

David Payne has Harpreet Singh caught for nought, one of the seamer's three wickets in England's 31-run victory

Wicketkeeper Michael Bates and Adam Ball played their part, adding 27 and 16 respectively, to take England to 246 for nine.

India made a steady reply but David Payne and Stokes tore the heart out of the innings, helped by some inspired fielding.

Payne made the first breakthrough at the end of the sixth over when Rahul Kannaur was caught behind by Bates with 36 runs on the board.

After starring with the bat, it seemed inevitable that Stokes would play his part with the ball but he had Manuel to thank for his first wicket.

With India well set on 62 for one in the 11th over, Mayank Agarwal carved an airy drive out towards Manuel who was lurking at deep-cover. Sprinting while the ball sailed through the air, the Worcestershire man leapt to his left to take an astonishing one-handed catch.

Payne struck twice in his next over as England made it three wickets in just eight balls. Stokes then induced Mandeep Singh to nick behind as India slipped to 87 for five in the 17th over.

India rebuilt steadily but England always had the match seemingly within their grasp as spinners Azeem Rafiq and Ball kept any resistance in check. The pair took a wicket each to leave India 141 for seven in the 31st over.

The game looked over when Javid took the eighth wicket to fall, but India battled back to set up a nervous finale.

Netravalkar, who shone earlier with the ball, attacked the returning Payne and Nathan Buck in a manner which belied his number 10 spot in the order.

At the other end wicketkeeper Sufiyan Shaikh continued to steadily accumulate to give India hope of victory.

Buck had other ideas, however, and after luring Shaikh to hit straight down Rafiq's throat, arrowed in an attempted yorker which Netravalkar scooped straight to Bates to spark jubilant scenes.

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