IPL 2017: Pune’s million-dollar man Stokes justifies tag with century against Gujarat

The England all-rounder scored an unbeaten hundred as the home team claimed a five-wicket win with a ball to spare against the struggling Lions

Ben Stokes arrived on the crease when Rising Pune Supergiants were 10 for three. He scored a career-best 103 not out in the Twenty20 format to take his team past Gujarat Lions. Indranil Mukherjee / AFP
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PUNE // Ben Stokes, Rising Pune Supergiant's two million-dollar man, started to repay his hefty recruitment fee after guiding them to a win over Gujarat Lions.

The England all-rounder, who was hobbling because of the effects of cramp by the end, scored an unbeaten hundred as the home team claimed a five-wicket win with a ball to spare against the struggling Lions.

“We paid a big amount to get him, we know he is a quality player, and he certainly earned his cash tonight,” Steve Smith, the Pune captain, said.

“He has been hitting the ball really well, he has been involved in a few good partnerships, and we are really happy with where he is at.

“He said from the start he judges himself on the way he plays, and he is not going to put any extra pressure on himself just because he has a big price tag.

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“I said before the auction to the guys, ‘Do what you have to to get him’. Allrounders are so valuable in T20 cricket. He bats, bowls and fields well, so he is a perfect fit for our team.”

Stokes’ effort belied the fact he had to undergo a fitness test on a shoulder injury that had kept him out of the team last time out.

To add to the pressure he already bears because of his price tag, he was restored to the line up in place of Lockie Ferguson, the New Zealand fast bowler who had been man of the match in the previous game for Pune.

“He looked pretty fit to me,” Smith said. “It was an amazing innings. Under pressure, coming in at three for 10, to play the way he did, he timed his innings perfectly.

“We missed him in the last few games, but guys stepped up and did a very good job.”

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