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Awesome Stokes lights up Newlands

Left-hander hammers 258, adds 399 with Bairstow as England amasses 629 for 6; SA counters with 141 for 2 at close on day two

Awesome Stokes lights up Newlands - Cricket News
Ben Stokes celebrates his double century.
On Sunday morning, Ben Stokes played the sort of innings from which legends are born, and in the process completed South Africa’s descent from the finest Test team in the world to a side in crisis. In the afternoon, he produced an effort ball to get rid of Dean Elgar and keep England on track for victory in the second Test, even if it faces a long, hard slog to make that happen on a glorious batting surface.
In between, Stokes was run out in shambolic fashion and also bowled a delivery straight to first slip, perhaps just to confirm that he remains human after all. That may have been doubted by those who witnessed his adjective-busting assault on the South African bowlers, in which he smashed a series of major records in scoring 258 in just 198 deliveries.
With Jonny Bairstow adding an unbeaten 150, England was able to declare on 629 for 6 and still have nine overs at the South Africans before tea on day two (January 3). In reply, South Africa reached stumps on 141 for 2, which not only confirmed the excellent Newlands batting surface but also stitched up some of the gaping wounds that Stokes had inflicted.
The only way to explain the magnitude of Stokes’s innings is with numbers. He began the day on 74 with England on 317 for 5, hit his first ball for four and needed just 11 more deliveries to go to his hundred. With South Africa reeling from that early barrage, he made sure there was no let-up. By the drinks break, England had scored 103 runs in 13 overs. Soon after, Stokes had 150 in 135 balls, making him the fastest Englishman to the landmark. The next 50 runs took him just 28 balls, giving him the second fastest double hundred in Test history. By lunch, Stokes had scored 130 runs in the session - the most by any Test batsman in a morning session. England had scored 196, the second most by a team in a pre-lunch session. England was 513 for 5.
After lunch, Bairstow brought up his maiden Test century in 161 balls. On any other day, it would have made headlines, but not today. The first hour after lunch yielded a further 97 runs, and also the first clear chance that either batsman had given since they came together with the match in the balance at 223 for 5, Morne Morkel shelling the simplest of catches at long-off to hand Bairstow a reprieve. At that stage, England was 602 for 5.
Stokes started the next over with two booming sixes off Kagiso Rabada, taking his tally for the innings to 11 - the second most in a Test knock. Then, he skied one to mid-on, where AB de Villiers circled underneath the ball, dropped it, and then ran Stokes out as he dithered in expectation of a catch. The partnership finished on 399, the highest sixth-wicket stand in Test history, and the highest for any wicket in South Africa.

For context of what Stokes means to England’s side going forward, there is one final statistic: this was the first time an England player batting at No. 6 or lower had scored 150 or more since 1998.
South Africa’s anguish lasted just two more deliveries, Bairstow hitting the next one for six before helping himself to the single he needed to reach 150. That brought the declaration from Alastair Cook.
The mental shambles of the day flowed into South Africa’s innings as Stiaan van Zyl was run out in a mix-up with Elgar in the third over, but thereafter, Hashim Amla restored a much-needed sense of calm. His runs are what South Africa missed most in 2015, but he started the new year with an unbeaten 64 that restored his team’s heartbeat to a healthy pace.
Amla shared in a 78-run stand for the second wicket with Elgar, who was his usual bolshy self during his 44. Once Stokes had removed the left-hand batsman, the South African captain added an unbroken 56 with de Villiers, who survived Joe Root’s drop at second slip off the bowling of James Anderson to end the day on 25 not out.
It remains to be seen whether the pitch deteriorates sufficiently to assist a result. A total of 453 runs on the day makes that seem doubtful, but more long, hot and windy days are forecast, and given the morning’s events, it seems that anything is possible in this game.

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