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Ben Stokes ready for IPL experience, buoy Rising Pune Supergiants

England all-rounder Ben Stokes, the highest paid overseas player in this year’s Indian Premier League auction, is ready to help Rising Pune Supergiants go from seventh last year to IPL title contention, and broaden his cricketing horizons.

ipl 2017 Updated: Mar 31, 2017 00:32 IST
N. Ananthanarayanan
Rising Pune Supergiants introduce their marquee player Ben Stokes in New Delhi on Thursday. The England all-rounder will be a key member in skipper Steve Smith’s team.
Rising Pune Supergiants introduce their marquee player Ben Stokes in New Delhi on Thursday. The England all-rounder will be a key member in skipper Steve Smith’s team.(AFP)

One of the hottest players in world cricket, England all-rounder Ben Stokes will represent his national board’s changed outlook towards Indian Premier League this season, and he expects it to take his level of exposure in the game to a different level altogether.

The England board has for years been suspicious of the Twenty20 league’s impact on its top players, and their commitment to Test cricket. Only Kevin Pietersen had warmed up to IPL very early, after being bought in 2009 along with former all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.

However, Ben Stokes was unveiled by his franchise Rising Pune Supergiants on Thursday at a launch conference attended by the team’s Aussie skipper Steve Smith and India vice-captain, Ajinkya Rahane.

BIGGEST OVERSEAS BUY

The 25-year-old became the highest paid overseas player in the IPL this year after being bought for a whopping Rs. 14.5 crore, something which the Durham player had described as ‘complete carnage’. Only Yuvraj Singh has attracted a higher bid, after he went to Delhi Daredevils for Rs. 16 crore in 2015.

Rising Pune Supergiants team captain Steve Smith (L), team owner Sanjiv Goenka (2L) and players Ben Stokes (2L) and Ajinkya Rahane look on during a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday. (AFP)

KP will not play this season, but there will be a strong contingent from England with limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan, wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Jason Roy and Chris Jordan all to play. Fast bowler, Tymal Mills, a T20 specialist, went to RCB for Rs 12 crore.

Ben Stokes, who was presented his team jersey with No 55 and name emblazed on it, chose to focus on how the league can help broaden his horizons. Stokes played a big part in taking England to the final of the World Twenty20 in 2016 and then played in the Test series late last year, which India won 4-0.

“I’m excited to be here and am grateful for the opportunity. It will be my first IPL, which I have only watched only on TV in the past. I hope we have a good season, and we hopefully win the trophy,” he said.

Stokes, 25, was bid by as many as five of the eight teams before the Sanjiv Goenka-owned RPS bought him. “I didn’t know what to expect. A few things went my way, I guess,” he said.

EXPOSURE BIGGEST GAIN

How was it different from England’s current tournament, the T20 blast?

“In England it isn’t a franchise competition. So, the exposure you get in a competition like this, you don’t get there. This is the best in the world, and you get to share the change room in the IPL and Big Bash with other international players. You get to share, and take your T20 game to a new level.

“I’m going to be here for six weeks, and solely focus on T20 cricket. The level of exposure here compared to anything (will be far better).”

Stokes had a nightmarish finish to the WT20 campaign, after West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite smashed him for four sixes in the final over of the final to seal victory. And the England stalwart knows what to expect in the IPL.

“T20 cricket is tough for the bowlers. You can bowl the same way in two games. It can work in one but go a different way in the other, batsmen can hit you 360 degrees. So the change of pace, and line and length, is important.”