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Ben Stokes stars as England end five-match losing run with win over Netherlands

Ben Stokes inspired England (Rafiq Maqbool/AP)
Ben Stokes inspired England (Rafiq Maqbool/AP)

Ben Stokes smashed his first World Cup century as England picked up a consolation win over Netherlands and raised their prospects of salvaging a place at the Champions Trophy.

The 2019 champions arrived in Pune for a bottom-of-the-table clash with a five-match losing streak behind them and the knowledge that another slip up would see them miss out on ODI cricket’s next global event in 2025.

But despite wobbling once again with the bat – going from 133 for one to 192 for six – Stokes had the will and skill to carry his side to a 160-run victory.

He struck 108 from 84 balls, grafting hard to begin with then accelerating sharply, to lift England to an imposing 339 for nine.

That was always going to be too many for a Dutch side who lacked the firepower to match Stokes and they wilted for 179 all out.

With two points and a healthy boost to their net run-rate England climbed from 10th to seventh in one jump, overtaking their opponents, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Like several of his team-mates, Stokes may be in the final week of his one-day career but he shouldered the responsibility one more time and warded off the live prospect of a calamitous defeat to the only associate nation in the competition.

In doing so he ticked off one of the only empty squares on his international bingo card: a ton on the World Cup stage.

Former England team-mate Steve Harmison this week called for Stokes to be sent home early for his planned knee surgery, in a bid to hasten his recovery for the India Test series, but he would have been sorely missed here.

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes struck a fine ton (Rafiq Maqbool/AP)

Jonny Bairstow continued his lean spell with an ugly top-edge for 15 but opening partner Dawid Malan reeled off a fluent 87 to set England up in the powerplay.

His first six scoring shots were boundaries and there were four more before his half-century, but England were about to play themselves into unnecessary trouble.

Joe Root had already played one of his favourite reverse ramps over the wicketkeeper’s head when he shaped to repeat the shot against Logan van Beek.

In this instance his timing was off and the pre-meditated stroke turned into a painful self-own. Failing even to wave the bat in the direction of the ball, he simply opened up his stance, allowed himself to be nutmegged and was bowled.

It was an unusually inelegant way for Root to go and things got worse in the next over as Malan torched his chances of a second century at the tournament, run out chasing a non-existent single.

Aryan Dutt is bowled by Adil Rashid
Aryan Dutt was bowled by Adil Rashid (Rafiq Maqbool/AP)

Suddenly another English collapse seemed to be brewing and the middle order promptly fell into line.

Harry Brook’s return to the XI after three games out fell flat, pulling Bas de Leede to deep square-leg for 11, before Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali offered the kind of catching practice that would be deemed too gentle for fielding drills.

Stokes had watched four wickets fall since arriving and set about shoring things up. He did not score a single boundary between the 29th and 43rd over, and offered a tricky chance to fine-leg on 41, but made sure to cash in on his hard work.

Having reached his half-century in 58 deliveries, he needed just 20 more to reach three figures. Aryan Dutt shelled 24 off his last over, De Leede 34 from his last two. Stokes unloaded four sixes in 10 balls and brought up his hundred with a reverse sweep for four.

Chris Woakes added a breezy 51 in a 129-run stand for the seventh wicket and, by the time Stokes holed out with two balls left, the job was well on the way to being done.

David Willey
David Willey took a tumble in the field (Rafiq Maqbool/AP)

By the end of Netherlands’ powerplay it was almost complete. Max O’Dowd flapped Woakes to mid-off to get things moving and David Willey had Colin Ackermann caught behind for a duck.

There were moments of good fortune for the Dutch, Wesley Barresi put down on nought and Sybrand Engelbrecht lucky to get the benefit of the doubt on a disputed catch from Root, but neither came close to getting on top of the bowling.

Barresi was eventually run out after chewing through 62 balls for 37 and Willey’s return accounted for Engelbrecht.

England’s spinners took over from there on, Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali sharing the last six wickets down the middle.

Moeen’s three for 42 represented his first wickets of the campaign, while Rashid took his tally to 13 as the pair weaved their way through all but Teja Nidamanuru (41no).