Stokes innings joins Test cricket’s greatest

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Ben Stokes single-handedly kept the Ashes alive with a nerveless 135 not out at Headingley that has been described as the greatest innings of all time by an Englishman.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at other unforgettable fourth-innings knocks in recent years that have carried their sides to victory in the most intense of pressure scenarios:

Brian Lara, 153 not out
v Australia, March 1999

With his captaincy on the line and facing one of the all-time great bowling attacks in Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill, the flamboyant left-hander delivered a virtuoso display. Set 308 in Bridgetown, the Windies were teetering on 91 for four and then 105 for five, and even Lara’s defiance looked to be in vain when they later lurched to 248 for eight. But Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh hung around long enough for Lara, whose innings included 19 fours and a six, to get the Windies home.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, 138 not out
v Bangladesh, September 2003

Test newcomers Bangladesh had their sights trained on a historic first victory in Multan after reducing Pakistan to 132 for six in pursuit of 261. Inzamam had other ideas, though, protecting the strike as partners came and went in a 232-ball innings containing 20 fours and one six. He almost made himself the object of vilification after running out Umal Gul with four still required to expose last man Yasir Ali but was able to hold his nerve as Bangladesh were edged out by one wicket.

Ricky Ponting, 118 not out
v Bangladesh, April 2006

Ricky Ponting made a match-winning century against Bangladesh (Martin Rickett/PA)
Ricky Ponting made a match-winning century against Bangladesh (Martin Rickett/PA)

VVS Laxman, 73 not out
v Australia, October 2010

The man nicknamed Very, Very Special had batted at number 10 in the first innings because of a sore back and once again required a runner second time around. But he defied the pain to prove Australia’s nemesis – and not for the first time in his career. Chasing 216 in Mohali, India slipped to 124 for eight but that merely set the stage for Laxman, who collected eight fours in a supreme 79-ball knock. He farmed the strike when last man Pragyan Ojha was at the crease, to help get his side over the line by a single wicket.

Kusal Perera, 153 not out
v South Africa, February 2019

Many outside England insist Stokes’ innings is not even the best witnessed this year. Like the England all-rounder, Perera was faced with seemingly insurmountable odds when Sri Lanka were reduced to 226 for nine in pursuit of 304 in Durban but he rose to the occasion in spectacular fashion. His innings contained 12 fours and five sixes while he took the lion’s share of the strike for his union alongside Vishwa Fernando, contributing 67 towards the highest last-wicket partnership of a successful fourth-innings chase.

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