Ben Stokes leads the way as England knock Australia out

June 12, 2017

England's ICC Champions Trophy charge took a giant stride forward as they grabbed the opportunity to knock Australia out of the tournament.
The Aussies had been one of the pre-tournament favourites, but went into the final group game at Edgbaston needing a win after the rain had forced no-results in the matches against New Zealand and Bangladesh. 
However, in front of an exultant crowd England demonstrated the resilience to hold off the Aussies in both innings of the match and enjoy a win by 40 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis method. Ben Stokes was man-of-the-match with a superb century, but there were many other fine performances.
Having already qualified for the semi-finals, England could relax against the Aussies but knew that failing to knock out a key rival could come back to haunt them. Such a prospect loomed early on as Australia, sent in to bat, reached 136-1 with Steven Smith and Aaron Finch both going well with half centuries to their name.  
However, some superb bowling and fielding pegged Australia back, with Mark Wood bowling with pace and accuracy to pick up 4-33, while Adil Rashid took 4-41 as the middle order subsided. 
England's cause was also helped by some superb fielding, not least a boundary catch by Jason Roy where he had to leap up, take the ball, then lob it up in the air as he was about to step over the boundary and run back onto the field to complete the catch.
Having restricted the Aussies to 277-9, England had high hopes. But with Mitchell Starc snaring the out-of-form Roy for 4 from the second ball of the innings and Josh Hazlewood removing Alex Hales for a duck, England were 6-2 in no time and when Joe Root fell for 15 it was 35-3.
Past England sides might have withered, but this one showed the mettle to produce a fabulous turnaround. Eoin Morgan, who is in superb form just now, began his innings with a couple of sublime off-drives for four and then climbed into anything short, giving the crowd catching practice with five sixes in a brilliant 87 before he was run out.
If anything, Stokes was even better, demolishing the bowling with an extraordinary mix of power and skill. His whipped four through mid-on from the bowling of Pat Cummins was reminiscent of a left-handed Kevin Pietersen, while he struck two huge sixes. 
With Jos Buttler keeping him company, Stokes pushed England on after the loss of Morgan, hitting the boundary that took him to 102 moments before the rain came. With England on 240-4 they were well ahead on the Duckworth-Lewis method, ensuring victory despite the damp end to the day.
For fans booking corporate hospitality for big games at Edgbaston, this was just one of many exciting cricketing occasions the summer has in store. The first ever day-night Test match when the West Indies visit in August will be the most historic, but there are also Birmingham Bears Natwest T20 Blast games to enjoy, as well as finals day on September 2nd. 
For England, this could be a wonderful summer. The ICC Champions Trophy would be their first global 50-over tournament win and the perfect cue for the Test side to pick up from as they seek to find their best form ahead of the Ashes.  

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