Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Rising Pune Supergiants all-rounder Ben Stokes overcame a serious bout of cramps to club a sparkling 103 not out and carry his side to a thrilling five-wicket win over the Gujarat Lions.
Being put in to bat first, the Lions got off to a good start as Ishan Kishan and Brendon McCullum amassed a 55-run partnership before Kishan was dismissed by Imran Tahir for 31.
Captain Suresh Raina only managed to make eight runs before he was run out by Ajinkya Rahane, while Aaron Finch and Dwayne Smith were removed by Imran Tahir off consecutive deliveries.
McCullum went on to score 45 off 27 balls, which included five boundaries and two sixes, before he was sent packing by Shardul Thakur.
With the Lions beginning to lose wickets at regular intervals, wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik gave them a much-needed boost towards the end of the innings as he struck a quickfire 29.
Thanks to Karthik’s late fireworks, the Lions managed to make 161 before being bowled out.
Tahir and Jaydev Unadkat picked up three wickets apiece, while Thakur and Dan Christian chipped in with one wicket each.
Chasing 162 to win, the Supergiants found themselves in all sorts of trouble early on as Ajinkya Rahane and captain Steve Smith fell in the first over.
To make matters worse, Manoj Tiwary was trapped lbw off the bowling of Basil Thampi in the next over as the Supergiants slumped to 10/3.
Just as they seemed to be recovering, Rahul Tripathi was run out by Aaron Finch for six runs.
With the Supergiants struggling, Stokes and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni came to the rescue with a 76-run partnership, during which Stokes sailed past his fifty.
But, after clawing their way back into contention, the Supergiants lost Dhoni for 26.
Despite this, Stokes and Christian put together an unbeaten 49-run stand, during which Stokes brought up his hundred, to lead the Supergiants to victory off the penultimate ball of the match.
Stokes finished on 103 off 63 balls, which included seven boundaries and six sixes, while Christian remained undefeated on 17 off eight deliveries, which included a boundary and a six.
Thampi and Pradeep Sangwan claimed two wickets each.
Stokes was named Man of the Match.