Ben Stokes may be considered one of the best all-rounders in cricket at this point of time but admitted to being perplexed when facing the ‘four best batsmen in the world’.
The Englishmen had been picked up for Rs 14.5 crore by Rising Pune Supergiants in the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) auction.
The huge sum made him the highest paid foreign player to partake in the IPL, having surpassed the Rs 9.5 crore Rajasthan Royals had paid to acquire the services of Shane Watson.
Stokes is set to play under Australian Steve Smith who was announced as captain of the Pune franchise, replacing MS Dhoni for this season.
While his England Test captain Joe Root humorously suggested Stokes ‘spy’ on Smith to identify any weaknesses the Australian may possess with the bat, the all-rounder seems to be stumped by his new skipper, if only at first glance.
In an interview with the Times of India, Stokes was asked to weigh in on the debate of the four best batsmen in the world. He quickly highlighted them as: “Root, [Virat] Kohli, Smith and [Kane] Williamson”.
“They don’t get out. They don’t want to get out. They are the ones who want to have the big hundreds against their names,” Stokes went on to say.
“They work relentlessly on their game. When any team comes to play against England, they want to get Root early as we want to get Kohli, Williamson and Smith,” he added.
Further prodded about the toughest to bowl to from the lot, Stokes pointed out that Williamson’s calm demeanour could see him stay at the crease for extended periods while Kohli and Smith were hard to contain once they got into their rhythm.
“Kane is very hard to get out, doesn’t necessarily punish you whereas Smith and Kohli have a more destructive gear once they have got to an 80 or a 100. Once Kane’s in, he is in. He doesn’t obviously change gears but he ends up getting 150 off 200 anyway,” Stokes said.
Having managed to dismiss Kohli only once in four Tests and twice in three ODIs during England’s recent tour of India, Stokes knows the Indian skipper is a hard nut to crack.
Stokes revealed that the English game plan against Kohli was to pitch the ball in precarious areas and tempt a reckless shot.
“We did have a plan to hang it outside the off-stump and test his [Kohli] go actually, to see if he could keep leaving ball after ball. It worked on a few occasions. We just wanted to be more boring for longer periods,” Stokes admitted.
The Englishmen draws comparisons between himself and Kohli — he believes both have a similar temperament with the bat.
When asked how he would bowl to himself, he said: “I would go round the wicket and bowl wide, pretty much same to Kohli because I reckon I’ll just give in and have a whack at it.”