Jaydev Unadkat took a hat-trick. He took five wickets. He got the man-of-the-match award. He got all the applause. The young Indian pacer was Rising Pune Supergiant’s hero on the night as they defended a paltry total of 148 against defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad to jump to the second spot in the table.
The foundation, however, was laid by IPL’s most expensive acquisition Ben Stokes. The English all-rounder first made a quick-fire 39 off 25 deliveries – highest score by an RPS batsman on the night – after coming out to bat at 39 for 2 to help his franchise reach a respectful total. And before Unadkat’s last over heroics – where he took a hat-trick and bowled a maiden to defend 13 runs in the last over – Stokes wiped off Hyderabad’s dangerous top order, which included the wickets of Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson and skipper David Warner.
One of the finest all-round performances was overshadowed by Unadkat’s heroics but Stokes doesn’t have to be disheartened. The 14.5 crore cricketer has been Supergiant’s most consistent player and arguably the biggest match-winner this edition.
Stokes has struck 283 runs and taken 10 wickets for the Sanjeev Goenka-owned franchise — the third highest run-getter and wicket-taker for his side. It was his ability to win matches single-handedly that convinced skipper Steve Smith to make him the most expensive foreign player in IPL history. Smith revealed after the game against Gujarat Lions that he had asked the owners to do everything they can to bring the English player to Pune.
“We were very excited to get him. I had said before the auction to the guys (owners) just do what you have to to get him.”
Stokes numbers in victories are crazy.
Sample this. RPS have won seven of the 10 matches in which Stokes has played. He has won three man-of-the-match awards in seven of those victories. 206 of his 283 runs and all of his 10 wickets have come in victories.
Supergiants had a super failure last season as they finished the season at the 7th position. This season, with Stokes as the driving force, Pune sit second in the table and have a very strong chance of making the IPL playoffs for the very first time.
He is also Pune’s only century-maker this season.
The player entered the 10th edition of the league with a lot of expectations that came along with his hefty price tag. And while many expected him to falter under the pressure, Stokes has repaid the faith shown in him by the captain and the team management. The player will return to England after the league matches for international duty and his quality and services will be sorely missed, should Pune go all the way.
Two games back, Rahul Tripathi lead RPS to a sensational win. Last night Unadakat delivered the glorious victory. If these youngsters have been akin to the ‘Superman’, Stokes has been the ‘Dark Knight.’ The watchful protector for RPS, who has stood against the opponents to enable his team to churn out victories.