After a thrilling T20I series that ended at 2-2, a fully-strength England locked horns with New Zealand in the opening game of the 4-match ODI series, sending waves of excitement through cricket fans worldwide.

The match held at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff witnessed the much-anticipated return of England’s star all-rounder, Ben Stokes, who reversed his decision to retire from ODI cricket.

Ben Stokes steals the show

Walking in at number four with England at 80-2 after being asked to bat, Stokes exhibited his prowess by steadying the innings with a careful knock. He went on to create fireworks with a well-crafted half-century that sent the crowd into raptures. Stokes began by forming a crucial 21-run partnership with Joe Root before joining forces with the skipper, Jos Buttler.

Also READ: England star Ben Stokes opens up on players getting attracted to franchise cricket after Mark Wood hints turning down central contract

The true spectacle of the day was the tremendous partnership between Stokes and Buttler, amassing 88 runs for the fourth wicket. During his 69-ball stay at the crease, Stokes showcased his class, striking 52 runs that included three boundaries and a towering six. Just as England seemed to be cruising, Stokes was dismissed while attempting to dispatch Rachin Ravindra‘s delivery in the 38th over.

Here is how Twitter reacted:

Meanwhile, England posted 291-7 in their allotted 50 overs. Buttler smashed 72 from 68 balls, with the help of 5 fours and 2 sixes. Liam Livingstone provided the late fireworks by smashing a 40-ball 52, including 3 fours and as many maximums. For the Black Caps, Ravindra bagged a 3-wicket haul while conceded just 48 runs in his quota of 10 overs.

Stokes opens up on his return to ODIs

Before the game, Stokes shared his thoughts on his decision to return to ODI cricket explaining that it was driven by the prospect of winning back-to-back World Cups and the honour he feels in representing his country.

He highlighted the unique privilege of being part of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup-winning team as a pivotal moment in his career, underscoring his deep attachment to the format and his desire to contribute to England’s success once again.

“Going back to when I made the decision to step away from the format there were obviously a few things to consider. As you go forward, different opportunities present themselves.When you have a few conversations with the right people and we have the chance to win back-to-back World Cups, when you put all of that in front of you, it’s hard to not be interested,” said Stokes while speaking to Sky Sports.

“Everyone knows what an honour it is to go out there and represent your country, regardless of whether it’s a World Cup or not. Being involved in that 2019 period, it was just an amazing thing to be part of and winning that was one of the highlights of my career,” he added.

Also READ: Sri Lanka legend Muttiah Muralitharan picks the teams that can win ODI World Cup 2023


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