Stokes en route his ton. Pic/PTI
It's the moment the whole Rising Pune Supergiant management was waiting for. Their million dollar baby had delivered with the ball, but not with the bat. He had missed the last two games due to a shoulder injury. But Ben Stokes, fighting cramps, made up for that with a brilliant hundred to guide Rising Pune Supergiant to a memorable five-wicket win over Gujarat Lions at the MCA Stadium here last night.
Stokes' unbeaten 103 off 63 balls (seven fours, six sixes) saw the hosts home in a chase of 162 with a ball to spare. Supergiant now have 12 points from 10 games, increasing their chances of making the play offs further.
Having lost the first three wickets in nine balls, MS Dhoni and Stokes had to resurrect the innings. Their 64 ball, 76-run stand brought the hosts back in the game. But with Dhoni being dismissed by a clever slower ball from Thampi, Supergiant still needed 44 from 23 balls.
Earlier, right from the word go, the Gujarat Lions seemed to be targeting a score in the region of 200. And being bowled out for 161 didn't do justice to the kind of start the openers had given them.
Brendon McCullum and Ishan Kishan gave them a rousing start, scoring 55 runs in the power play. Kishan was dismissed on the last ball of power play by Tahir, but McCullum made sure there was no drop in the scoring rate.
Things began to change for the hosts in the 10th over, when Imran Tahir got rid of Aaron Finch and Dwayne Smith off back to back deliveries. Lions were still scoring at over nine runs per over at this stage, but those two wickets sent them on the backfoot. Shardul Thakur removing the dangerous looking McCullum (45 runs, 27 balls, five fours, two sixes) couple of overs later made things even more difficult for the visitors. Barring James Faulkner, all their big hitters were back in the dug-out with eight overs to play.
Gujarat Lions 161 in 19.5 overs (B McCullum 45, Ishan Kishan 31; I Tahir 3-27, J Unadkat 3-29) lost to RPS 167-5 in 19.5 overs (B Stokes 103*, MS Dhoni 26; P Sangwan 2-38, B Thampi 2-35) by five wickets