Ashes 2023: Ben Stokes once again keeps England in contention with the bat- and his bowlers have backed him

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England captain Ben Stokes scored another innings salvaging total at Headingley- and his bowlers have backed him up 

A sun-baked day in Leeds saw England stumble to 87-5 after just 30 minutes of play. The loss of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow had fans worrying about a collapse which might just ensure the urn returns down under. 

Ben Stokes was called upon to save his team from embarrassment once again- and once again he answered the call. As chaos rained around him, Stokes first played himself in and then single handedly took on the Australian bowlers. 

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Spinner Todd Murphy was targeted by Stokes, with multiple sixes including back to back maximums on two occasions seeing Stokes rattle past the half century mark. A lot of the upper and middle order failed in this first innings at Headingley, leaving Stokes in the position he has found himself in on many occasions in recent years. 

His innings also took Stokes past 6,000 test match runs for England, and they were 80 vital runs which at least kept England in the match. 

A brief cameo from Mark Wood was also a vital contribution for England, he scored 16 from his first three deliveries before getting out for 24. This blitz plus the brutal 80 from Stokes propelled England to within just 26 of Australia. 

Stuart Broad removed David Warner for the 17th time in his career, but the evening session got off to a conservative start as Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne ground Australia past a lead of 50. 

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Moeen Ali removing Labuschagne and then Steve Smith for just two were vital breakthroughs for England and the Australian lead ticked over 100 with around an hour's play left on day 2. 

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JULY 07: England captain Ben Stokes hits out for six runs watched by Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey during Day Two of the LV= Insurance Ashes 3rd Test Match between England and Australia at Headingley on July 07, 2023 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)LEEDS, ENGLAND - JULY 07: England captain Ben Stokes hits out for six runs watched by Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey during Day Two of the LV= Insurance Ashes 3rd Test Match between England and Australia at Headingley on July 07, 2023 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
LEEDS, ENGLAND - JULY 07: England captain Ben Stokes hits out for six runs watched by Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey during Day Two of the LV= Insurance Ashes 3rd Test Match between England and Australia at Headingley on July 07, 2023 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) | Getty

Chris Woakes kept the pressure on from the other end and he dismissed Usman Khawaja and suddenly, England looked to be on the charge. 

Stokes’ superb solo effort had helped to set up yet another tense and dramatic conclusion to an Ashes 2023 test match. England are fighting hard and after disappointing results at Edgbaston and then Lord’s- they are desperately hoping to keep the series alive at Headingley.

Australia will start day 3 on 116-4 and have been kept within touching distance thanks to some disciplined bowling this evening. However, it was the England captain's brave 80-run contribution which has helped keep this match on a knife edge.

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With injuries threatening to curtail Stokes in the future, we need to appreciate the big hitting all-rounder as much as possible and hope he can be backed by more of his teammates in the days to come.

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