IPL 2020: Ben Stokes makes a statement with ton to keep Rajasthan Royals in playoffs hunt

All-rounder helped his team chase down 196 against Mumbai Indians

Sanju Samson of Rajasthan Royals and Ben Stokes of Rajasthan Royals during match 45 of season 13 of the Dream 11 Indian Premier League (IPL) between the Rajasthan Royals and the Mumbai Indians at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi  in the United Arab Emirates on the 25th October 2020.  Photo by: Pankaj Nangia  / Sportzpics for BCCI
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Rajasthan Royals all-rounder Ben Stokes smashed an unbeaten 107 to keep his team in hunt for the Indian Premier League play-offs after their eight-wicket win over holders Mumbai Indians on Sunday.

The win for Steve Smith's Royals knocked the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings out of the final-four race despite their win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first match of the day.

Stokes combined with Sanju Samson, who made 54 not out, to put on 152 runs for the third wicket as Royals achieved their target of 196 in 18.2 overs in Abu Dhabi.

The left-handed batsman came into his own, hitting 14 fours and three sixes in his 60-ball knock to help Royals rise to sixth in the eight-team table with five wins from 12 games.

Stokes, who joined his team late this season after spending time with his ill father in New Zealand, hit a six to bring up his second IPL ton and surpassed his previous best score of 103 with the winning boundary.

"It's sort of bittersweet to be honest. Bit taken aback by why it's taken me so long to get into the tournament for the team," said Stokes.

"To be honest the training I've had yesterday was the best I had throughout my time here, so I came into this with a bit of confidence. It was coming on nicely."

The New Zealand-born Stokes, whose father is battling cancer, said: "Things are a bit difficult right now, but hope this has given a bit of happiness back home."

The powerful batting show from the star all-rounder, who had scored 110 from five games before this knock, put Hardik Pandya's 21-ball 60 in the shade after Mumbai finished on 195-5.

Mumbai though still stay top of the table, locked on 14 points with Delhi Capitals and RCB in the fight for a place in the top two. The qualifiers begin on November 5.