For England allrounder Ben Stokes, the long-awaited return to international cricket did not go as planned. The 27-year old, who was not included in England’s squad for the Ashes, and also missed out the ODI series against Australia and the T20I tri-series against Australia and New Zealand, found himself being included in the first ODI against New Zealand at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Sunday. Stokes, who has not played for England since September, came out to bat in the 22nd over after Ish Sodhi dismissed England captain Eoin Morgan with a googly for 8.
England, who lost two quick wickets in succession, found themselves in a spot of bother and the onus to take England to a comfortable position came on to Root and Stokes shoulders.
But the left-handed batsman, who started his innings slowly, scoring just 1 boundary in 22 balls, was dismissed on 12 after he was teased by with a slower delivery Mitchell Santner. Stokes tried to hit it with a slog sweep as the ball jumped up and got a leading edge. The ball flew in the air and landed in the safe hands of Ross Taylor. He survived in the middle for only 7 overs and left the middle with his side reeling at 139/4 in 29th over.
But Stokes managed to deliver with the ball when he broke the 178-run partnership between Tom Latham and Martin Guptill and dismissed the former for 79. His breakthrough opened the floodgates and New Zealand lost three quick wickets in succesion. He also dismissed Colin de Grandhomme for 2 a couple of overs later and brought England back into the game. He gave 43 runs in 8 overs with 2 wickets and bowled at an economy of 5.37. In spite of his efforts, New Zealand went on to take a 3-wicket win with the help of a late cameo by Mitchell Santner.
Stokes has not played for England since September but did sign a short-term contract to play for Canterbury in New Zealand’s domestic limited-overs competitions in December. The allrounder made a return to the international side after he was suspended following an incident in Bristol last September which led to him being charged with affray. He was ruled out of England series after the incident due to the ongoing legal process but was recalled in February after he entered a not guilty plea when he appeared in court on February 13. He joined the team in New Zealand earlier this week and will have a court hearing on March 12, after the series gets over.