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Can Ben Stokes guide Rising Pune Supergiant to IPL glory?

Ben Stokes suffered the lowest moment of his career when he was blasted for four consecutive sixes by Carlos Brathwaite to cost England their second World T20 crown.

A year removed from his failure, Stokes was handed one of the most lucrative contracts in the auction process in the IPL for the 2017 campaign by Rising Pune Supergiant.

The 25-year-old has begun to repay the club for their heavy outlay with one match-winning performance, although he will need to be at the peak of his powers to guide them towards the tournament crown.

Rising Pune Supergiant are backed in the latest cricket betting odds at 11/1 to secure the title, and although they have several superstars in their lineup, it will take teamwork to drive them over the line.

Ben Stokes will hold the key with bat and ball due to his destructive ability to smash sixes over the rope and his miserly habits at the end of the innings running into the crease.

The 25-year-old’s prowess with the ball was one of the decisive factors in powering England towards the final last term.

He produced excellent displays at the death to keep runs off the board in matches against Sri Lanka and New Zealand, making his collapse at the hands of the Windies surprising in India where he had previously thrived in such conditions.

Stokes fared well enough in his return to the country with the Three Lions in their series against Virat Kohli’s men.

As a result, he would have been confident of starring for Rising Pune Supergiant following his selection in the auction, although the size of his deal put him under pressure to perform from the off.

The all-rounder failed to live up to the expectations in the opening stages of the competition, scoring one fifty in an impressive knock against Kings Punjab XI.

However, he has failed to pass 25 in his other four innings to date, increasing the pressure on him and the players around him to deliver for Rising Pune.

His bowling has been marginally worse, failing to take wickets in three of his five matches, while he suffered a similar fate to his World T20 final experience against the Delhi Daredevils.

South African Chris Morris smashed 22 runs off five deliveries in Stokes’ final over, playing a significant role in the club’s victory over Rising Pune Supergiant.

After a poor performance with the bat, Stokes was feeling the heat to deliver with the ball against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Ben Stokes put in an outstanding display, taking three wickets for just 18 runs in his four overs, including the prized scalp of Kohli. His performance appeared to build his confidence as he produced brilliance in the field to save a certain six with an acrobatic effort on the rope.

That’s the sort of match-winning performance Ben Stokes can deliver for Rising Pune Supergiant and should he maintain the level of that form in his side’s key matches then they have a great chance of advancing to the latter stages of the competition.

The 25-year-old can be infuriating at times, but when he’s at his best, there are few players in world cricket better in all aspects of the game than he is.

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