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Cricket World Cup 2023: Record-breaker Stokes gives England a winning edge

Ben Stokes once again showed why he is one of the biggest talents in cricket, when smashing an historic century in Wednesday's ODI win over New Zealand at The Oval.

The Test captain only recently decided to reverse his decision to retire from the 50-over format and proved how crucial he could be for England at the upcoming World Cup.

Stokes smashed 182 off 124 balls to record the highest score by an England batter in an ODI, helping the hosts to go on to win the match by 181 runs and take a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.

What2023 Cricket ODI World Cup
WhenThursday, 5th October to Sunday 19th November, 2023
How to watchSky Sports Cricket
OddsOutright: India 11/5, England 3/1, Australia 9/2, Pakistan 13/2, New Zealand 15/2

Stokes covers all bases in England line-up

There were some people questioning the decision to recall the Test captain to the white-ball squad, especially with a knee injury stopping him from bowling at present.

But with England dropping to fourth in the ODI rankings, the coaching team were keen to have a player that offers an x-factor, as well as another potential match winner.

Since winning the trophy on home soil in 2019, England's one-day team have seen a decline in their 50-over results.

Jos Buttler's men have played 36 completed ODI matches since the start of 2020 and England have claimed 20 wins during that time – with just 10 victories in their last 20 50-over internationals.

Stokes – 9/1 to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year - proved in the Ashes that he can still have a major impact with the bat and that was highlighted again with his stunning innings on Wednesday.

The knock at The Oval has seen Stokes' ODI average improve to 40.50 and a strike rate of 96.36 – with four one-day centuries and 22 half-centuries to his name.

The timing of his ton against the Black Caps will have also sent out a message to all of England's World Cup rivals, that Stokes adds another dimension to an already strong ODI side.

The 32-year-old has produced all types of different innings in white ball cricket, with yesterday's knock needing to be a steady start, with England 13-2 when he made his way to the crease.

Once he was set, Stokes was then able to step on the gas and smashed nine sixes and 15 fours to help England – available at 3/1 to win the World Cup - set a formidable target of 368.

The left-hander also has the ability though, if the top order has made good progress, to tee off straight away and quickly increase the run-rate.

Stokes return makes England firm contenders

With England's recent struggles with the bat and the likes of Jason Roy and Alex Hales no longer part of the ODI plans, Stokes provides the perfect selection in the middle-order.

It looks increasingly likely that Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan will open the batting in India, with Malan making 96 in the third ODI on Wednesday.

Coach Matthew Mott will be looking for that duo to get England off to a fast start, but if things don't go well for the openers, there will be no reason for panic with Joe Root, Stokes – 9/2 to be Top England batsman in Friday's fourth ODI - and captain Buttler the next three in the batting line-up.

With pinch-hitters such as Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali and Sam Curran further down the order, England will see 300+ runs as a regular target through the tournament.

Stokes also has a decent record in Indian conditions, smashing 99 from 90 balls in an ODI in Pune two years ago, whilst also recording two half-centuries in the 2017 ODI tour.

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