Ben Stokes moment against Australia sends cricket world into meltdown
Ben Stokes put the exclamation mark on England's series-clinching T20 victory over Australia on Wednesday night, with a moment of magic in the field that left cricket fans in disbelief.
Australia's preparations for the T20 World Cup took another hit as the home side were well-beaten by England at Manuka Oval for a second consecutive outing.
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Not even the return of star bowling quartet Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Adam Zampa - plus gun allrounder Glenn Maxwell - could save the Aussies from another loss against their English rivals.
As it was in the first match in Perth, the hosts again fell eight runs short, with England posting 7-178 courtesy of a stylish 49-ball 82 from man-of-the-match Dawid Malan.
Allrounder Sam Curran then wrapped things up with the ball, taking 3-25 to help England take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
The visitors' win was highlighted by an outrageous piece of fielding by Stokes, who leaped high in the air to stop a certain boundary from Mitch Marsh.
The big-hitting Aussie must have thought he'd cleared the ropes after smashing a lofted off-drive towards the boundary.
However, Stokes showed incredible speed and athleticism to stop the ball in a stunning one-handed grab, before throwing it back into play before he crossed the rope.
The extraordinary piece of fielding left viewers in awe on social media.
YOU CAN NOT DO THAT BEN STOKES 😍 pic.twitter.com/Y5nH6TtnJJ
— England's Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) October 12, 2022
Ben Stokes with one of the great boundary saves 🤯#AUSvENG pic.twitter.com/K1IcR1Sgcq
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) October 12, 2022
One of the great boundary saves from Ben Stokes #AUSvENG
— Andrew McGlashan (@andymcg_cricket) October 12, 2022
Ben Stokes that is OUTRAGEOUS 😱pic.twitter.com/esdOiZwoOi
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) October 12, 2022
What a ridiculous piece of fielding that is from Ben Stokes!
— Mark Carruthers (@MarkCarruthers_) October 12, 2022
Simply outstanding! Ben Stokes saves six with some acrobatics on the rope! #AUSvENG #PlayOfTheDay | #Dettol pic.twitter.com/5vmFRobfif
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) October 12, 2022
“He’s a freak,” Malan said about Stokes at the post-match press conference.
“For a guy who’s got a dodgy knee to move like he does is unbelievable.
“He puts everything on the line, he always has done. He’s a fantastic asset for England.”
Another concerning defeat for Australia
The loss again highlighted fragility in the Australian batting card, particularly at the top of the order where captain Aaron Finch (13 off 13 balls) and David Warner (four off 11) failed to fire.
The duo could barely keep the scoreboard ticking and left their team 2-22 in the fifth over when both were dismissed, their teammates unable to pull off the rescue mission.
"It's disappointing to lose a series, but the chat over the last period of time is about the World Cup," Starc said post-match.
"We've spoken thoroughly about these four fixtures about how we've had different match-ups between the four games with the West Indies and England.
"Obviously, we want to win the series and we want to win these games, but the big focus is the World Cup and when we play those teams."
Mitch Marsh (45) looked poised to steer a comeback before Curran dismissed him, while pinch-hitter Tim David continued to impress early in his Australian T20 tenure, smacking five fours and a six in his 40 off 23 balls.
Earlier, England had looked in trouble at 4-54 before Malan and Moeen Ali (44 from 27 balls) combined brilliantly to put on a 92-run partnership.
Starc said there'd been positive moments throughout the clash, but his side had never been able to grab the ascendancy.
"There's been some really good stuff these last two games and obviously good matches for the spectators ... just not enough to get over the line on both occasions," he said.
"A lot of positives to take out of both fixtures ... we've got another chance on Friday, two more chances before that first game of the World Cup to either settle on some match-ups and get a last look at England before we take them on the World Cup."
Match-winner Malan said his fifth-wicket stand with Ali had been pivotal in the win.
"Sometimes, those moments can get to you and you can do something silly and get out early, but I'm incredibly proud of the way I went about it and got some runs in a winning cause," he said.
"We had a little partnership there myself and Mo (Ali) that sort of got a bit of momentum ... it helps if you have two guys batting at the same rhythm and tempo and you're both scoring boundaries.
"That can transfer the pressure to them."
The sides will meet again in a dead rubber in Canberra on Friday night.
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