'Bowling won us the game' – Stokes deflects praise despite final half-century

By Sports Desk November 13, 2022

Ben Stokes says England's bowling attack was the key factor in their victory over Pakistan in the T20 World Cup final on Sunday, despite his crucial half-century.

Sam Curran (3-12) and Adil Rashid (2-22) bowled superbly to restrict Pakistan to just 137-8, though England's chase did not get off to the greatest of starts as openers Alex Hales and Jos Buttler were removed within the powerplay.

Stokes came in with England 32-2 after 3.3 overs, but smashed a sublime 52 off 49 deliveries to record his first ever T20I half-century and help his country to their second T20 World Cup title.

Stokes was keen to highlight England's bowlers as the reason for the win at the MCG in Melbourne, telling Sky Sports: "I think when you chase totals in games like this, you forget the hard work that goes in before.

"I thought the way that we bowled, Adil Rashid, Sam Curran, that's what won us the game. To restrict them to whatever we did, bowlers have got to take a lot of credit for that.

"We didn't feel under too much pressure with the run chase. I never felt it was out of our hands at all. It's never really panic stations when it's under eight an over."

England's triumph comes after a shock defeat to Ireland in the group stage that threatened to derail their tournament, having come in as one of the favourites.

Stokes referenced that loss after the final victory, saying: "I think with that [Ireland defeat] being so early in the competition, we obviously had to address it, say what we said and then let it go.

"In tournaments, you can't carry baggage. That was a little blip, but the best teams learn from their mistakes, they take it on the chin but they never let it affect them and they just let it go and move onto the next challenge."

England's success comes in new captain Jos Buttler's first tournament since taking over from previous incumbent Eoin Morgan, who led the team to ODI World Cup glory in 2019.

Stokes says Buttler has built on Morgan's good work to create history of his own, adding: "Jos has now created his own legacy.

"When the great man stepped down [pointing to Morgan] and Jos took over, you look how quickly he's managed to take control of the team and progress it from the legacy that Morgs [Morgan] has left.

"He's a guy who everyone follows. I think it shouldn't be taken for granted how hard it can be to make tactical decisions under pressure in this format. Ninety-five per cent of his decision-making he's got right. We're lucky to have him."

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    The Three Lions gained a measure of revenge for their loss to the Azzurri in the final of the last European Championship at Wembley with a victory in their Group C opener at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

    Declan Rice opened the scoring and Kane become England's outright leading goalscorer with a penalty at the end of the first half in Naples on Thursday.

    A debut goal for the Argentina-born Mateo Retegui in the second half and Luke Shaw's late red card could not prevent England from securing a first away win over Italy since May 1961.

    It was a special night for Kane, who broke a record he shared with Wayne Rooney by scoring his 54th goal for England.

    A commanding first-half display enabled Southgate to become the third England manager to celebrate 50 victories in charge of the national team after Alf Ramsey (69) and Walter Winterbottom (78).

    Southgate hailed his captain, who stepped up to make history in the Three Lions' first game since he crucially missed a spot-kick in a World Cup quarter-final defeat to France in December.

    He said: "Kane was extraordinary. Breaking the record in these conditions demonstrates all the mental strength he has.

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    England were a cut above Italy in the first half, but it was a different story after the break and Southgate felt they made life difficult for themselves following such an impressive start.

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    Harry Kane savoured the "magical moment" of becoming England's outright record goalscorer in a 2-1 Euro 2024 qualifying victory over Italy.

    Kane made history in the Three Lions' Group C opener at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on Thursday, breaking a record he had shared with Wayne Rooney by converting a penalty just before half-time.

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