Rising Pune Supergiant skipper Steven Smith had only praise for Ben Stokes, after he came up with yet another match-winning performance against Gujarat Lions on Monday.
Stokes blasted 103 not out from 63 balls as RPS overcame Lions by five wickets. Speaking about the knock after the match, Smith said, He’s been hitting the ball really well. We're very happy with where he’s at and how he’s played. That was an amazing innings: under pressure, came in at three for nothing and to play the way he did, he timed his innings beautifully, took the game on at the right time. Fantastic knock to get us home. He hit some very clean balls there, chose the right balls to hit, too.
“He’s always said from the start that he judges himself on how he plays. He’s not going to put any extra pressure on himself just because he has a big price tag next to his name.”
Smith had an role in getting Stokes into the team. “We were very excited to get him. I had said before the auction to the guys just do what you have to get him,” Smith said.
“Allrounders are so valuable in T20 cricket and he bats, bowls and fields well. He’s a perfect fit for our team, particularly after Mitchell Marsh was ruled out as well. He’s done a terrific job for us. We paid a big amount to get him. We know he’s earned his cash tonight.
“For us it’s about trying to get to know each other for six or eight weeks and try and get the best out of each other. Even learn a bit about one another. The team’s been really good. We’ve got some really good characters in the shed there.”
Smith opines that that his side has played some really good cricket. “I actually said to the group of guys that we had five games, four here [in Pune] and one in Mumbai,” he said. “Not a lot of travel. Home ground, we wanted to try and make it a bit of a fortress.
“We are four and two here, if I’m right. That’s reasonable going. One more game to play here against the Kings XI Punjab, so hopefully we can make it 5 and 2. I’ve said that these five games are very important for us and I think we’ve played some really good cricket and it’s nice to get over the line and be in the position where we are now.”
--By A Cricket Correspondent