Ben Stokes remained unbeatend on Day 1 © Getty Images
Ben Stokes remained unbeaten on Day 1 © Getty Images

With England looking in grim stretches after losing four top order batsmen, it was Ben Stokes who rescued his team to a commanding position heading into Day 2. Stokes who up until now was having a very average run of late in Tests, finally decided to come into his own. England from being 167 for 4 ended at 316 for 5, where Stokes remained unbeaten on 74* along side Jonny Bairstow 39*. Vishal Mehra takes a look at what impact did Ben Stokes have on very first Test of the New Year for England.

On winning the toss for the second time in a row Alastair Cook led England would have felt delighted on batting first on a deck which seemed a batsmen paradise with good pace and bounce. Cook and Hales got them to a good start with team reaching 50 runs in 15th over, before Cook was caught by a superb Chris Morris off Kagiso Rabada for 27. It was all down hill from their with Hales, Nick Compton and James Taylor falling in a span of 10 overs to reduce the visitors’ to 167 for 4. Come in Ben Stokes, who in the first Test made managed scores 21 and 5.

Stokes who had Root beside him decided to bat with caution and calm before he went blistering the ball all round the park. Stokes carefully made 24 runs in the 56-run partnership with Root (27). The pair achieved more than 4.54 run rate in the 12.2 overs they batted together. After the fall of Root, it was all the Stoke show.

Stoke plundered any plans South Africa to come back and take the initiative before the end of play. Stokes went on a T20 mode, smashing 74-runs off 93 balls. Stokes played the aggressor in the partnership with Jonny Bairstow making 50 runs out of the 94 run stand.

Stokes who on a killing spree, nearly managed to kill the new ball smashing 17 runs of the 81st over, with the new ball been taken by Chris Morris. Morris was the most loveable bowler for Stokes as he amassed 42 runs of 35 balls, which included 9 four’s. Another bowler he found his liking was Dane Piedt smacking him for 12 runs off the 11 balls he bowled to him, including a huge six down the ground.

Stokes who brought up his 1000th Test run for England in his innings of 74* is known to be a maverick in cricketing circles. Remember his utter madness with the bat against New Zealand at Lord’s in first Test last year. Missing out an run a ball hundred in the first innings, where he got out at 92 off 94 balls, Stokes recorded the fastest ever Test at Lord’s by a batsmen in the second innings. Stokes made 100 of just 85 balls, not really fast as compared to world standards but at Lord’s is special feeling. England did manage to beat the Kiwis as Stokes also grabbed wickets with the ball (he is a good bowler in seaming conditions with a best of 6 for 36).

Stokes will want to make it big on Day 2, with prospects of a century looking fairly likely, any thing less than that could be a damper. Will Stokes match up to his billing as the next big (literally) ‘Andrew Flintoff’ of English cricket remains to be realized we all hope that come this new year he manages to flare his away into the cricket box office star that he is known to be.

(Vishal Mehra is a reporter at CricketCountry, who enjoys his weekly dose of anime, and plays cricket once a white moon. His twitter handle is @vishal_oxyjinn)