England captain Ben Stokes made a solid statement stating ‘teams do not know how to play third innings’ after his side defeated India in an entertaining the rescheduled fifth Test at Edgbaston in Birmingham that saw five centuries being scored.
Stokes’ comments were aimed towards India, who crumbled under pressure in their second innings, especially against short balls, to be all out for 245 to give England a 378-run winning target with more than five sessions in hand. India had made 416 in the first innings.
The new England captain feels incredible at how other teams are viewing them at the moment. “Look at how teams will be viewing us at the moment, that third innings now has become a fourth innings, because they have to concentrate on how we're going to play, and they're worried about that,” Stokes was quoted as saying in ICC website.
“So to be in that position as a team, being feared before they've even finished their innings is an unbelievable place to be in. Teams don't know how to play the third innings, especially when they've got a lead,” added the all-rounder, who has won all four Tests since taking over from Joe Root.
Having chased fourth-innings targets of 299, 296 and 277 in their last three Tests against New Zealand, England have become a pro when it comes to chasing in the final innings of a Test match. Going by his instincts, Stokes once again sent India to bat first after winning the toss against India.
As usual, it was business at the end for Joe Root (142 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (114 not out) as the pair stitched together 269 runs for the unbroken fourth wicket to steer England home with more than two sessions to spare. Bairstow also had a century in the first innings.
Under Root, England went to a new low with just a win in 17 Tests including the Ashes drubbing earlier in the year. England’s turnaround with Stokes and new head coach Brendon McCullum at the helm, have also pushed them two places higher to seventh in the ICC World Test Championship standings.
With the kind of aggressive mindset both Stokes and McCullum bring to the table, the former wants to rewrite the way Test cricket is being played. “We are trying to rewrite how Test cricket is being played, in England especially,” Stokes said.
“All the different plans that we put together over the last four or five weeks, for every different situation is something we’ll look to carry forward,” added Stokes, one of the heroes of England’s 2019 World Cup-winning campaign.
After five action-packed days in Birmingham, the action now shifts to the white-ball series against India. England take on India in the first of three T20s on Thursday at Southampton. After the T20 series, India and England will play three ODIs to cap off the tour.