Ben Stokes’ maiden IPL ton help Rising Pune Supergiant to first win over Gujarat Lions
While Maharashtra and Gujarat celebrated their foundation day on Monday, the neighbouring states were pitted against each other on the cricket field in a battle for supremacy. (Updates)
Rising Pune Supergiant -- who had lost to Gujarat Lions in the three encounters they have played till date -- finally won on Monday, thanks to a stunning unbeaten 103 by a hamstrung Ben Stokes.(Scorecard)
After Rising Pune Supergiant’s Imran Tahir (3/27) and Jaydev Unadkat (3/29) restricted Gujarat Lions to 161 in 19.5 overs, all-rounder Ben Stokes registered his maiden IPL ton as the hosts registered a five-wicket win with one ball to spare at the MCA Stadium on Monday. (IPL 2017 full coverage)
At 42 for four, the stage was set for Stokes and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (33-ball 26) to live up to their top billing. The 76-run partnership between them for the fifth wicket put Rising Pune Supergiant back into the game after a flurry of wickets early on.
Monday’s innings was crucial for Stokes, considering his Rs 14.5 crore price tag, and the string of low scores since his half-century knock against Kings XI Punjab in RPS’s second match.
Stokes, making a comeback into the playing XI after missing the last two games due to fitness issues, started with a sublime straight drive off Pradeep Sangwan. Instead of going for flashy strokes, Stokes operated smartly by concentrating on rotating the strike with Dhoni.
Stokes finally let loose, smashing Ravindra Jadeja for consecutive sixes to take 15 runs off the left-arm spinner’s over.
Dhoni consumed some balls in the beginning and added to the pressure, resulting in him holing out straight to McCullum at long-off with 44 required off 24 balls.
Stokes and Dan Christian, with his big hits, brought the equation down to 25 off 12 and then eight off the final over. Christian finished it off with a six over square leg off the penultimate ball.
Rising Pune Supergiant were off to a horrendous start with their top-four batsmen dismissed in single digits. Pradeep Sangwan, with his steady pace, sent back Ajinkya Rahane (4) and skipper Steven Smith (4) in the first over of the innings.
In the second over, young pacer Basil Thampi dismissed in-form Manoj Tiwary, out leg-before, for duck. Just before the powerplay overs ended, RPS opener Rahul Tripathi was run out even as a stunning silence gripped the stadium.
Dhoni at his best with gloves
Dhoni’s run out of Suresh Raina (8) was a master class. The Gujarat Lions skipper sprinted for a second run with Rahane’s throw from deep midwicket being quite flat. A watchful Dhoni kept his hands as close to the bails as possible and as soon as he collected the ball, the bails were whipped in a flash with Raina short of his ground.
In the final over, Dhoni’s direct hit sent back Dinesh Karthik for 29 as he tried to steal a single.