Pune: Ben Stokes smashed one of the most memorable centuries in Indian Premier League (IPL) history to lead Rising Pune Supergiant past Gujarat Lions by five wickets on Monday.
Stokes endured cramps in his legs at the end of his unbeaten 103 off 63 balls before Dan Christian hit the winning six for Supergiant to win with only a ball to spare.
Also, captain Rohit Sharma carved an unbeaten half-century and led leaders Mumbai Indians to a five-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore, last year’s finalist which was eliminated from play-offs contention.
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The Gujarat Lions were bowled out for 161 in 19.5 overs, and spinner Imran Tahir took the wickets of top-scorer Ishan Kishan (45), Aaron Finch (13), and Dwayne Smith (0).
Coming to the crease with Supergiant reeling at 9-3 in the second over, Stokes swung around the game by sharing 76 runs with Mahendra Singh Dhoni (26) before cutting lose in the death overs.
Dhoni holed out in the deep in the 17th over but Stokes stayed aggressive and reached his century with a ferocious driven boundary through the covers off James Faulkner in the last over, one of his seven fours and six massive sixes.
Bought for a record $2.16 million by Supergiant, Stokes helped them to 167-5.
“It wasn’t an ideal start but we have some artillery in the shed," Supergiant captain Steve Smith said. “We are peaking at the right time."
Supergiant were fourth in the standings. The Lions, after their seventh loss, were sixth.
Mumbai sit on top having won eight of 10 matches. Royal Challengers have won only two of 11.
Rohit’s unbeaten 56 off 37 balls guided Mumbai to 165-5 with a ball to spare after Royal Challengers were restricted to 162-8 on a drier Wankhede Stadium pitch.
In the run chase, Mumbai lost Parthiv Patel off the very first ball, but Jos Buttler (33) and Nitesh Rana (27) revived the innings with a half-century stand.
Pawan Negi dismissed both batsmen in successive overs, then Rohit took charge, hitting six fours and a six.
“We want to be ruthless in our approach and finish on top of the table. The tournament doesn’t end here," Rohit said.
Royal Challengers skipper Virat Kohli opted to bat first and made a good start of 40-1 in five overs. But Kohli was undone by Mitchell McClenaghan’s slower delivery and chipped an easy catch to midwicket in the last over of the batting powerplay.
AB de Villiers (43) looked to have regained his touch after three straight single-digit scores before top-edging a sweep of Krunal Pandya.
Negi (35 off 23 balls) and Kedar Jadhav (28) lifted Royal Challengers with a gritty 54-run sixth-wicket stand but McClenaghan bowled a terrific last over, conceding only five runs and accounting for the wickets of Negi and Jadhav in consecutive deliveries. Adam Milne was run out off the last ball.