Ben Stokes smashed a quick-fire century to guide Rising Pune Supergiant to a five-wicket victory over Gujarat Lions on Monday night. Stokes played a starring role, plundering 103 runs off just 63 balls producing seven boundaries and six hits into the stands along the way.
Electing to field first on winning the toss, Pune dismissed the visitors for 161 runs in 19.5 overs but chasing the target, initially made heavy weather of their chase before reaching it with one ball left. Pacers Basil Thampi and Pradeep Sangwan bowled well for the visitors, returning figures of 2/35 and 2/38 respectively.
Pune were off to a shaky start, losing three wickets in the first two overs. Sangwan struck the first blows for Gujarat, sending back Ajinkya Rahane and Steven Smith in the opening over, while Thampi trapped Manoj Tiwary leg before in the next over with a faster delivery pitched on a fuller length, which surprised the right-hander by the extra pace.
Rahul Tripathy and Stokes then got together and attempted to bring the innings back on track with a 32-run stand which came off 24 balls. Stokes was then involved in another crucial stand with MS Dhoni as the duo added 76 runs between them off 64 balls to take Pune to a comfortable position. Thampi brought the partnership to an end with a back of the hand slower ball which Dhoni hit into the hands of McCullum at long-off.
However, Christian joined Stokes in the middle and the duo proceeded to carry Pune across the line. Pune also boost their claim to a play-off spot, as they strengthened their grip on the fourth spot with 12 points from 10 matches. Gujarat are at the sixth place on the eight-team table with six points from 10 matches.
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Earlier, Tahir’s brilliance with the ball restricted Gujarat to a manageable 161 runs. Tahir not only broke the opening stand but also got rid of Aaron Finch (13) and Dwyane Smith (0) in successive balls. The South African spinner conceded 27 runs in his four overs.
Lions could not exploit a good batting wicket and if it was not for Dinesh Karthik’s sensible 29-run knock, they would not have put on board a respectable total. Paceman Jaydev Unadkat (3/29) also took three wickets to wipe off the tail.
- Maksudul HAQUE, Correspondent, bdcrictime