first_imgMahendra Singh Dhoni is not called one of the best finishers of the game for nothing. His mere arrival in the middle just blows away the dark clouds hovering over a run-chase. In different continents, against different opponents, Dhoni, for years, has been there and done that.Somebody who has followed Dhoni’s game closely can make out that there is a set pattern in all his run-chases – see off the dangerous period, take it deep and explode towards the end.This mantra has kept Dhoni in the business for long and is still helping him destroy opposition teams at will.Dhoni, who gave up his limited-overs captaincy earlier this year, was removed from the captaincy of the Rising Pune Supergiant franchise before the start of the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League.He also didn’t have a great start to the tournament, which was once considered a lucky hunting ground for the 35-year-old Ranchi man. Dhoni was failing to muster the big scores, the helicopter shots, the mighty sixes and was eventually not being able to finish off the games – forcing his critics to call for his head.But just when the critics were writing him off, Dhoni showed why it was too early to do that. Dhoni smashed an unbeaten 61 off 34 balls to seal a thrilling last-ball victory for RPS against Sunrisers Hyderabad.On Monday, Pune were in a similar situation against Gujarat Lions, where they needed Dhoni to see off the chase. And Dhoni did play his part but in a different way.advertisementThere was an Englishman who took a leaf out of Dhoni’s book to write a new chapter for himself in the IPL.Ben Stokes, who is the costliest foreign recruit ever in IPL, smashed a quick-fire century to guide RPS to a sensational five-wicket victory over Gujarat in Pune.Electing to field first on winning the toss, Pune dismissed the visitors for 161 runs in 19.5 overs but chasing the target, they initially made heavy weather of the chase before reaching there with one ball to spare.Stokes played a starring role, plundering 103 runs off just 63 balls, a knock which was studded with seven boundaries and six hits into the stands.Pune were off to a shaky start, losing three wickets in the first two overs.Pacer Pradeep Sangwan struck the first blows for Gujarat, sending back Ajinkya Rahane and Steven Smith in the opening over, while Basil Thampi trapped Manoj Tiwary leg before in the next over with a faster delivery pitched on a fuller length, which surprised the right-hander by the extra pace.Rahul Tripathi and Stokes then got together and attempted to bring the innings back on track with a 32-run stand which came off 24 balls. But the partnership was broken thanks to an accurate direct hit by Aaron Finch which caught Tripathi short of the his crease.Stokes had pushed a James Faulkner delivery towards long-on and completed the first run comfortably. But attempting a second run proved to be disastrous as Finch produced some superb fielding to hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end.Stokes was then involved in another crucial stand with Dhoni as the duo added 76 runs between them off 64 balls to take Pune to a comfortable position.Thampi brought the partnership to an end with a back-of-the-hand slower ball which Dhoni hit into the hands of Brendon McCullum at long-off.However, Daniel Christian joined Stokes in the middle and the duo proceeded to carry Pune across the line.Pune, thus, bolstered their claim to a play-off spot, as they strengthened their grip on the fourth spot with 12 points from 10 matches.Speaking after the match, Stokes, who was adjudged the man-of-the-match for his brilliant effort, revealed how he and Dhoni planned the assault on Gujarat.”We lost a few early wickets, and the start didn’t help. I and MS Dhoni tried to tick along and get something going. We wanted to attack early, then cool off to take it over by over,” Stokes said.Stokes, who was bought by Pune for a whopping 14.5 crore in the auction, became the second Englishman to score a century in the IPL. This was also his maiden T20 hundred.”It’s always nice, personal accolades and stuff like that, but we are on a roll as a team. If we keep performing like this, we can see ourselves in the final,” he added.last_img

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