IPL: Ben Stokes blasts unbeaten century as Supergiant defeat the Lions in Pune
Ben Stokes fired his first T20 century (image source: BCCI via Cricinfo)

IPL: Ben Stokes blasts unbeaten century as Supergiant defeat the Lions in Pune

England's Ben Stokes smashed his first IPL hundred as the Rising Pune Supergiant defeat the Gujarat Lions by five wickets

Tom Hiscott

After being signed to one of the wealthiest contracts in Indian Premier League history, the pressure was on the fiery Ben Stokes to deliver for the Rising Pune Supergiant and he finally has a headline win to his name.

The England all-rounder had so far produced a couple of under the radar man-of-the-match performances before missing matches for his new franchise, yet on Sunday he took the bull by the horns and reminded the cricketing world of why his services were in such demand at the recent auction. 

Coming to the crease at 10-3, Stokes smashed seven fours and six sixes in an unbeaten innings of 103 from 63 deliveries to bring his Supergiant team a crucial five wicket win over the Gujarat Lions at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium

Big guns fall early as Pune attempt to chase 162

Sitting in the final playoff position, Pune's hopes of reaching the knockout stages would have taken a huge blow if they had lost and innings of 45 from Brendon McCullum and 31 from Ishan Kishan, the Gujarat openers, left the Supergiant needing 162 for victory from 20 overs. 

The chase started in the worst possible way for the home side with Pradeep Sangwan picking up two huge wickets in the opening over.

Ajinkya Rahane was first to go, after he was trapped LBW for just four, and then after hitting his first delivery for four, Australian skipper Steve Smith was caught by Ankit Soni to give Sangwan his second scalp in the space of three balls. 

Things got even worse for Pune just three balls into the second over with Manoj Tiwary falling LBW to Basil Thampi for a duck, before their breakthrough batsman of the season Rahul Tripathi followed him back to the dugout after making just six. 

Stokes thumps Supergiant to final over win despite cramping

At the fall of the fourth wicket, the Supergiant needed 120 runs to claim victory from less than 14 overs, with Stokes joined at the crease by Indian legend MS Dhoni

Stokes took the attacking role in the partnership, hitting 46 of the 76-run partnership, while Dhoni built his innings in singles before he fell for 26 with 44 still needed for victory.

The left-handed batsman seemed to find the boundary rope whenever he attempted to in the final six overs of the innings, thumping the spin of Ravi Jadeja over the rope as well as targetting the medium-pace of Dwayne Smith.

Stokes moved through the 70's and 80's as Pune charged toward the victory target, and after slapping Thampi for a humungous six in the penultimate over, he flayed a drive over the cover region off the bowling of James Faulkner to move to his maiden T20 century from 61 balls.

The final 15 balls of his innings saw Stokes battling cramp, but alongside Dan Christian (17*), the pair saw their side home with one ball remaining in one of the most memorable innings by an English player in the decade-long history of the IPL.