A battling century from Ben Stokes helped Rising Pune Supergiant overcome a disastrous start and snatch a five-wicket victory over Gujarat Lions at the MCA stadium here on Monday. English all-rounder Stokes, who had missed Pune's previous two matches, overcame a severe bout of cramps in the dying stages to hit an unbeaten 103 and help his team overhaul a tricky target after Gujarat were dismissed for 161.
The 25-year old smacked seven fours and six sixes from 63 balls to see the Supergiant home after the team had lost two big wickets - Ajinkya Rahane and captain Steve Smith - in the first over of the innings.
Stokes stitched a vital 74-run partnership with MS Dhoni (26) but Pune still needed 25 runs from the last two overs, their initial mayhem and some tidy bowling by rookie spinner Ankit Soni and promising Kerala pacer Basil Thampi making things difficult for them. But the Christchurch-born Durham player hoisted Thampi for two sixes in the penultimate over before cramps got the better of him.
Fortunately, Dan Christian provided the finishing touches to help Smith's side earn crucial points and strengthen their fourth place in the points table.
Earlier, Gujarat's innings fizzled out after a fiery start. Brendon McCullum was in his elements as he threw the kitchen sink at the first ball he faced from Jaydev Unadkat, smacking the left-arm seamer for a four over extracover in the second ball of the innings. But Ishan Kishan outscored 'Baz' as he pulled Unadkat over fine-leg in third over and then Washington Sunder over midwicket. McCullum joined him in the fun when he lifted Stokes over midwicket in the following over.