In a different world away from IPL, Steve Smith would have loved to see the back of Ben Stokes early. Getting him out would have been Smith and his sides top priority. But here the duo-Smith and Stokes- along with Sanju Samson ensured that Rajasthan Royals post a 7-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab and stay in hunt for the playoff berth. (HIGHLIGHTS | POINTS TABLE | FIXTURES & RESULTS)
Star all-rounder Stokes stole the thunder from Chris Gayle. Gayle was out for 99 but not before making a record of hitting 1000 sixes in IPL and taking his side to 185/4.
Stokes hit a masterclass 26-ball 50 adding to his two wickets as RR secured a much-needed win which took their points tally to 12. Although they are tied with KXIP on points, but are 5th on the table because of poor Net Run Rate (NRR).
Stokes who was adjudged man of the match said his team have nothing to lose and are just hanging in there and that perhaps has opened him.
"When you are in a position that we are as a team, there is nothing to lose. We are just hanging in. Very happy with the win. I went in with the same mentality as against Mumbai, to capitalise on the hard-new ball. We had a decent break from our last game. I have had a few days off. Had a good couple of days training before this," Stokes said.
RR skipper Steve Smith was quick to praise the all-rounder.
"Ben is a class player, plays proper shots, hits balls in weird areas, and did a job with the ball too. One of the best in the world," Smith said. Smith also praised Sanju Samson, who scored 25-ball 48 but was unfortunate to be run out two runs short of a half-century.
"The Samson run-out was unfortunate, but you take positives from every situation. It gave Jos (Buttler) a chance to bat after a five-day break. He hit them well so this is a good sign. Sanju started the tournament really well, then in the middle couldn't get going, but that is T20 cricket. You have got to keep trusting the process," Smith added, who has ruled himself out of Big Bash League (BBL).
Although the win kept RR alive in the tournament Smith said it would have been nice had the team won a couple of matches in the middle of the season.
"The season has ebbed and flowed, yes. Would have been nice to have a couple of wins in the middle. We still need to do a bit to make the playoffs, and we need things to go our way. Having said that, if that happens, we are playing very good cricket," he added.
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