Ben Stokes strikes out Gujarat Lions

Stokes blasted 50 off 38 balls defusing the crisis after Lions combo of Pradeep Sangwan’s swing and Basil Thampi’s pace made inroads in the first six overs.

Ben Stokes celebrates after scoring his maiden IPL century.   -  AFP

Chasing 161, Rising Pune Supergiant slumped to 42 for four in seven overs, 67 at the 10 over milestone, before Ben Stokes smashed his way to 103 not out off 63 balls, his first T20 ton, to guide his team home by five wickets, 167 for five in 19.5 overs. M S Dhoni’s departure 43 runs away from target did not curb the England all-rounder as he plundered runs at will (seven fours, six sixes) to deflate Gujarat Lions at the MCA stadium in IPL 2017.

Stokes blasted 50 off 38 balls (3x4, 3x6), defusing the crisis after Lions combo of Pradeep Sangwan’s swing and Basil Thampi’s pace made inroads in the first six overs. Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith, Manoj Tiwari fell forcing the pace. Dhoni stepped up the scoring rate with power-packed strokes, making room for shots off the square, but fell slogging.

Lions managed a fighting 161 in 19.5 overs after being asked to bat, losing steam in the last10 overs (64 against 94 at the halfway mark).

Earlier, Imran Tahir made things happen for RPS after pressed into the attack in the Powerplay overs. The South African tricked three batsmen in an outstanding show of aggressive bowling.

Tahir victims (4-0-27-3) were frontline batsmen, boosting his individual tally to 16 wickets.. Ishan Kishan slashed against the turn and perished. Aaron Finch tapped back tamely and Dwayne Smith fell swishing against a googly. Brendon McCullum led the assault for the visitors with 45 off 27 balls. The home team held their catches to support a disciplined bowling show.

RPS made a bold move, pitting off-spinner Washington in the second overs, as provocation for hard-hitting openers Kishan and McCullum to flex arms. The youngster fired at the stumps, gave away a single run. The second over cost 11 runs but forced Kishan to nick once, luckily the inside edge eluded Dhoni. McCullum whacked a six off Stokes to mid-wicket.

Tahari struck the first blow in the sixth over, coming round the wicket to Kishan and spearing the ball into the trigger-happy opener. The left-hander (31 of 24 balls) cut against the line and paid the price. Raina walked in to join McCullum after the openers had stolen 55 runs in the PowerPlay. GL reeled from the shock run out of the skipper.

Dhoni’s flash reaction in response to a Rahane throw from the deep beat Raina’s dash back. Tahir twisted the knife into Lions by removing Aaron Finch and Dwayne Smith in the same over. The second dismissal resulted in the leg-spinner taking off on a celebratory run after he slipped in a googly and the beat the batsman who swatted against the line.

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