India vs England: Ben Stokes insists he can play the long game after measured century in Rajkot

The all-rounder faced more than 200 balls in a Test innings for the first time in his career

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The Independent Online

Ben Stokes is not usually one to hang around, but the England all-rounder has spoken of his delight at how he stayed put and posted his fourth-ever Test century during the draw with India in Rajkot.

The flame-haired 26-year-old, who often burns twice as bright and half as long as his peers, faced 235 balls in the tourists’ first innings, scoring 128 runs during a stay at the crease which almost lasted five hours.

“The first thing I realised was it was the first time I’d batted 200 balls,” said Stokes. “It was hot. I was cramping up towards the end and I had to leave the field after when we went out to field.

“But it was good to know that I can play a different role than people associate with me, which is going out there and hitting fours or sixes until I get past a certain score. It was good to know that I could stay in there in different conditions.”

“I’m not sure how you work on concentration, you’re either born with it or you’re not and I’m not,” he added. “Knowing that I can bat my defence more confidently also adds to my attacking game.

“I can be switched on enough to put the bad balls away and keeping the good balls out makes them try and do something different."

Stokes, however, had more than his fair share of luck along the way to the knock. He was dropped on 60 and 61 by Wriddhiman Saha, India’s wicketkeeper, and saw a few wayward shots fall thankfully wide of a fielder's fingers.

“There was a few times I laughed to myself and think ‘this is pretty lucky,’” he admitted. “The balls seemed to always land between two fielders and I got dropped twice and a few missed run outs.

“But to work on what I’ve been told to work on and then to go out and do it against the best bowler in the world in Ashwin and the best team in the world is a good feeling. The best thing is that all the hard work I’m putting in is showing up."

“The last 18 months have been a turnaround,” he added. “I was decent in Australia but after that was pretty s*** to be honest. But they kept on picking me and once I got put back up the order I’ve just carried on for there. The more I’ve played, the more confident I’ve got.”

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