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Setting up Stokes: Leaf from Roach’s book

Stokes stands in disbelief. How many times you have seen that happening?
Maybe, a few. While bowling, yes. There is this moment where Brathwaite destroyed him comes to the mind immediately. But with batting, especially, in recent times?

Maybe, the one where Starc dismissed him for an absolute yorker in the World Cup. However, Stokes already did the damage that day.

Now, Stokes certainly is living on a different level. He is an alien and you need something different to bring him back to this human world to get rid of him. It cannot happen every single day. But yes, there are some days, some moments, Stokes is overshadowed by something precious and powerful.

This time, that sort of delivery comes from Kemar Roach.

Roach goes round the wicket and there were two left-handers at the crease.

It was the 35th over of the match and Roach was all pumped up.

You see him running in, bowl a short one attacking Stokes’ ribs. Stokes is too good to block it. There isn’t much in the ball though. What was he trying, you would think. It was all part of the plan, maybe.

The next delivery he comes with a similar one but this time it is quicker. Stokes did not expect it. Before he could get his bat, the ball hits his helmet goes to the keeper. There was a half-hearted appeal too. It did hurt him. You can tell from faces in the dugout. The physio has a quick look. Stokes seems okay.

Though Roach is a top-class bowler, Stokes hates to be dominated. Stokes would be embarrassed. His ego was hurt too. He wanted to do something. There you go.

Roach bowls another short ball but this time, Stokes had plans. He was ready to hook and he did. The ball wasn’t as threatening as the previous one and fell in the line. This made it easier for Stokes. He played a beautiful hook to get that ball to four.

Now, this is Roach’s time to come back. He angled a length delivery back to Stokes who moves forward and defends it with ease. This delivery wasn’t intense. It was more like a peace offering. At least, one might think that but it wasn’t. It was a plan to trap Stokes.

Roach bowls almost the same delivery. A length ball but this time it is a bit outside off. The ball is not far away from the off-stump. Still, Stokes decides to leave it. A good leave though.

For a batter like Stokes, they don’t leave clues. It’s hard for the bowlers to set them up. They don’t easily fall for the plans. Now, Roach almost had Stokes. He had just seen Stokes leaving a delivery that is close to the stumps. He could see a bit of opening here. He hopes to catch it and he did.

Now, almost all the deliveries he bowled so far went away from the batter. Not many swung in. Roach changes things this time.

Roach bowls a bit fuller delivery this time. A perfect inswinger. The ball had a lot of seam movement and later a bit of in-swing. The ball goes through the big hole between his bat and leg. There isn’t much foot movement from Stokes who might have misjudged it. Roach wins the battle.

Stokes stands there looking at the pitch and perhaps wondering what just happened. In disbelief. Embarrassed.

Roach did have a bit of celebration and he certainly deserved it.

It was one brilliant spell from Roach that witnessed a proper set-up to get rid of the world number one all-rounder in the longest format of the game. The battle is over. The war isn’t.

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