Kevin Pietersen blasts England captain Ben Stokes for poor show vs India

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen has blasted current English skipper Ben Stokes for his lackluster batting display in the ongoing fifth Test against India at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Sunday.

Ben Stokes began his innings at the overnight score of zero and only managed to score 25 runs before being sent back by Shardul Thakur, thanks to a stunning catch by Jasprit Bumrah, who’s captaining Team India for the first time in Test cricket.

While Ben Stokes’ innings lasted for 36 balls, he never looked in control in the middle and was woefully close to losing his wicket at least thrice before he was eventually dismissed by Shardul Thakur.

Kevin Pietersen didn’t have kind words for Ben Stokes as he slammed the left-hander for not putting a price tag on his wicket. Kevin Pietersen also claimed that the world-class all-rounder looked in two minds more often than not and suffered at least “three brain fades in 10 minutes”.

While Kevin Pietersen was not impressed with the England captain’s batting, he said that it was Ben Stokes’ approach that made him sad.

“I was watching Stokes run down the wicket and slog the ball straight into the air. It was reckless batting; it was not defending your wicket. Test matches are hundreds of valuable commodities, they mean a hell of a lot because of the stress, tension, patience and discipline. He had three brain fades in 10 minutes. That devaluing of his Test wicket may not be a good thing. He is too good a player to do this,” Kevin Pietersen told Sky Sports.

“I would tell Ben that he doesn’t need to try and prove a point by being ultra-aggressive. The bowler needs to be bowling his best deliveries in order to get Stokes out. At the moment, I see Stokes trying to command authority by running at bowlers. He doesn’t need to do that when England are in strife. I would tell him to stand still and do what Bairstow is doing. He is too good a player to be doing what he is doing,” added Kevin Pietersen.

“It’s a new approach and entertaining, for sure. Stokes has been talking about that aggressive nature and the way he believes Test cricket needs to be played in this era. But Bairstow is playing with control. He is calm, and composed, is standing still, and playing the ball as he sees it. He is not running down the wicket, he is being calculated. There is no slogging at all, he is playing fabulously,” he explained.

Former England batter Nasser Hussain, however, defended Ben Stokes’ approach and declared that the Three Lions captain was trying to set a tone for the home team.

“Ben Stokes is trying to set a tone for England, he’s trying to send a message to his team that, in doubt, they can take the positive attacking approach. So, I understand why he is batting like this, unlike Kevin Pietersen, who feels that he should bat like Ben Stokes, who is a very sensible cricketer.

“Remember the knock in Headingley, he had one run off 62 and then he smashed Australia everywhere,” Nasser Hussain stated.

Nasser Hussain was also effusive in his praise of Jonny Bairstow who he said was in the “form of his life”.

“Jonny Bairstow is in the form of his life. He epitomises what McCullum and Stokes want, positive, but not reckless batting. There has been no reckless batting from Bairstow this summer, he has been brilliant,” he stated.

On Day 3, Jonny Bairstow hogged the limelight for his altercation with former India captain Virat Kohli.

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Video footage showed Virat Kohli signaling Jonny Bairstow to stay inside the crease after he walked up to the England wicketkeeper batter. The former India captain then made gestures with his hands, telling Jonny Bairstow to shut up.

Virat Kohli’s sledding, however, backfired as Jonny Bairstow became ultra aggressive after this incident. The Englishman went into overdrive – while he was earlier mistiming his strokes, Virat Kohli’s words fired him up.

Suddenly, Jonny Bairstow started gaining in confidence before unleashing his full repertoire of strokes – short-arm pulls, drives, lofted hits over the inner circle and the runs started to come at a rapid pace.

Virat Kohli’s heated exchange with Jonny Bairstow stirred the England wicketkeeper batter to such an extent that he went on to complete his third successive hundred off only 119 balls.

Before Virat Kohli walked up to him, Jonny Bairstow had made just 13 off 61 deliveries.

But after Virat Kohli’s provocation, his next 87 runs came off just 57 balls.

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