In the absence of Joe Root, Ben Stokes batted at No.3 for England in the first ODI against India at Pune. The England all-rounder claimed he messaged Joe Root before the game, questioning the England Test skipper about the mindset required to bat at No.3. Stokes revealed that Root responded by saying – ‘just play the way you play.’
In a decade-long ODI career, Ben Stokes has batted at No.3 only five times, scoring 86 runs at an average of 17.2 and a paltry strike rate of 61. In the first ODI, he was dismissed after scoring just one run as India went on to win the game by 66 runs.
On the eve of the second ODI against India, Ben Stokes shared his thoughts on playing his first ODI since the epic 2019 World Cup final and filling in for Joe Root at the unfamiliar No.3 spot.
“It’s crazy to think that it was my first game (ODI) since that World Cup Final (July 2019). Great to be back out there and play some One-Day cricket. Look, there was always going to talk irrespective of whoever filled the No.3 spot with Joe Root not being there. People keep talking, and I will just go out and do what I am asked to do," said Ben Stokes.
“I messaged Root to understand the mindset for No.3. He was pretty clear to me and told me – ‘just play the way you play’. Just because he plays in a particular way, it doesn’t mean I will bat the same way. It’s slightly different at No.3 when you compare to my regular spot at No.5 or 6. Here, potentially I can play around 100 balls in compared to the 60-70 balls I usually do. Won’t be changing much. Maybe slightly the situation will alter,” Ben Stokes added.
Was interesting to bowl and then come and bat soon: Ben Stokes
The Player of the Match in the 2019 World Cup Final at Lord’s, Ben Stokes is a critical component in the English ODI setup. Playing an ODI after a gap of 20 months, the New Zealand-born star cricketer produced an important spell of 3 for 34 from his eight overs.
Ben Stokes reckons it’s a different challenge to bowl a long spell of overs and then bat early in the innings instead of his usual batting spot at No.5 or 6.
“It was interesting to bowl and then come and bat soon and get the body going again. It was nice to get the ball in hand and get a few good spells in. Normally, batting a bit low down, everything felt a bit lethargic. I was happy to get in some overs under the belt and put in a decent show,” the 29-year-old added.
Ben Stokes has played 96 ODIs and scored 2,683 runs at 40.04, striking at almost 94. He also has 73 wickets to his name at 40.46, maintaining an economy rate touching 6.