Ben Stokes Completes T20 World Cup Redemption: “It was a small setback along the way to give credit to Ireland and beat us, but the best teams learn from their mistakes and don’t let it affect them.” are,” said. Ben Stokes on England’s opening loss to Ireland in the Super 12 stage of the tournament, minutes after guiding his team to their second T20 World Cup title at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. But one can easily think that Stokes may be talking only about himself. After all, second chances don’t come easily, especially when you hit 4 sixes in a row in the deciding over of the final. Stokes, however, created not only a second but a third chance for himself and was successful in both.
On a cold Kolkata night six years ago, Stokes was mocked as Carlos Brathwaite hit 4 huge sixes to snatch the T20 World Cup from England’s jaws. It was a heartbreaking end for Eoin Morgan’s England team, which turned a corner after a humiliating exit from the group stage of the 2015 ICC World Cup.
This ultimately proved to be a minor blip like the loss to Ireland in the campaign, as Morgan’s team became the most formidable white-ball team in the world, turning limited-overs cricket on its head.
The timid, gentlemanly English side was taken over by the goalscorers, who were ready to turn the team’s destiny with their all-round attacking game plan.
The first opportunity came at home in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, but a disappointing semi-final loss quickly ended a campaign that had promised a lot.
The relentless pursuit of excellence in the white ball game continued and it all came to a head in 2019 at the hallowed ground of Lord’s Cricket Ground as England suffered another World Cup final defeat, this time in a well-oiled manner towards New Zealand.
Ben Stokes had come a long way from that disappointing night in Kolkata and he, with a touch of luck, held his nerves to tie the final as England won the 2019 World Cup by a margin of boundary count was. In addition, the Super Over ended in a tie.
The victory was well deserved but there were still questions about it and the negatives were not ready to consider this team the best yet.
The rescheduled 2021 T20 World Cup saw a semi-final loss to New Zealand and soon thereafter, Morgan took the wraps off his career.
Jos Buttler was handed the reins of limited overs as Stokes decided to focus on Test cricket and retire from ODIs. The promotion of Stokes to Test captaincy marked an immediate turnaround in England’s fortunes as they were left behind by a match-winning machine in 2022.
The focus shifted to T20 with the World Cup in Australia and England entering the championship on the back of bilateral series wins over Pakistan and Australia.
Ireland did get into the Super 12 stage but England decided not to carry the baggage and booked their knockout spot with some impressive victories.
India was buoyed by the brilliance of Butler and Hales and a resurgent Pakistan awaited in the final. With the MCG’s huge boundaries and Pakistan’s indomitable pace attack, England knew 138 was too big a target and it turned out to be just that.
Stokes earned his second chance through hard work, grit, and most importantly the ‘never say never’ spirit that brought him back from the worst.
He pushed, nudged, cut and defended like a battle-hardened general that he had become to stop the Pakistani speed barrage.
But the equation was going in Pakistan’s favor while chasing the target, even Stokes needed a stroke of luck and it happened when Shaheen Shah Afridi failed to complete his third over due to injury.
Stokes removed Iftikhar Ahmed’s part-time off-spin and since then it was just a formality.
Stokes had presented a second ICC trophy for England, and now he needs to reclaim the Ashes on Australian soil to be an English legend for posterity.
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