Match-winner stoked with hundred
Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes acknowledged his 88-ball 100, which set up England’s 31-run triumph against India in the Under-19 World Cup, was the most important innings of his fledgling career.
England’s victory at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln secured top place in Group A and a quarter-final against West Indies on Saturday in Rangiora.
It consigned defending champions India to runners-up spot and a trickier quarter-final versus bitter rivals Pakistan, who won Group D.
Asked whether he had played a better knock, the man of the match told ecb.co.uk: “I would say that I have, but not at England level. I’ve played at Durham academy and club, but nothing that was that important.
“I stayed in, in that type of pressure situation that we were in. It was the first time I’ve had to rebuild an innings to make sure a team got a decent total.”
Stokes entered the fray in conditions favouring the bowlers, but added 100 for the fifth wicket with Atiq Javed - who made 42.
The left-hander pinpointed England’s batting powerplay, taken in the 40th over, to go after India’s bowlers.
Six sixes and four fours later, Stokes went to three figures from 87 deliveries before falling next ball.
“Me and Atiq were in at 60 for four and we were just talking about rotating the strike and keeping the scoreboard ticking over, and then after a bit the boundaries started coming and the runs started coming easier,” he continued.
“A big turning point in the game was when we took the powerplay and they kept the spinner on.
“It’s a strength of mine to hit them for boundaries, which was a big turning point in the game because the run-rate got up and we put them under pressure. They had had us under pressure for most of the game.”
Having helped set India 247 to win, Stokes chipped in two wickets with his right-arm medium pace to leave England’s opponents 87 for five.
Although India’s lower order kept them in contention, all six England bowlers got in the wickets column to end proceedings with 20 balls remaining.
“It was a really good all-round performance from the team as well, not just from myself,” Stokes enthused. “Every bowler bowled well. The fielding was of a high standard.
“Getting those two wickets as well was good to add to my record, which I was pleased with.”
These followed victory over Papua New Guinea and defeat to hosts New Zealand in last week’s warm-up games.
“Every game we’ve played so far we’ve gone in positive no matter who we’re playing, whether it was Papua New Guinea, Afghanistan or India,” he said.
“We’ve all gone in confident and believing that we could win. In the way that we fielded and bowled at the start, we put them under pressure, when we had been on the back foot to start with.
“It was pleasing to be in an environment like that and obviously to end up with the win.”