Rising Pune Supergiant's record-breaking investment in Ben Stokes has paid dividends, with the England allrounder delivering a blistering maiden Twenty20 century to secure his Indian Premier League team a crucial victory.
Stokes – whose $2.16 million contract broke the IPL signing record for a foreign player – hit an unbeaten 63-ball 103 during the Supergiant's five-wicket win over the Gujarat Lions on Monday.
"He's done a terrific job for us. We paid a big amount to get him. We know he's a quality player. (He) certainly earned his cash tonight," Supergiant captain Steve Smith said of their star performer after the win.
The left-handed batsman, who came into bat with Pune precariously placed at 10 for three, put on a 76-run fifth-wicket partnership with Mahendra Singh Dhoni who made 26.
Supergiant chased down their 162-run target with a ball to spare to keep in the top half of the league's eight-team ranking.
Stokes, who has won three man-of-the-match awards in eight IPL matches this season, smashed seven fours and six sixes in front of a raucous home crowd.
"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," said Smith.
"We were very excited to get him. I had said before the auction to the guys (owners) just do what you have to get him."
In another match Monday a star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore, led by India captain Virat Kohli, became the first team to crash out of the play-off race after suffering a five-wicket loss to Mumbai Indians.