Stokes credits Smith for improving his game during IPL

Melbourne [Australia]: England all-rounder Ben Stokes , who was named the Indian Premier League’s Most Valuable Player, has revealed that Australia and Rising Pune Supergiant captain Steve Smith played a pivotal role in helping him achieve huge success in his debut season of the lucrative T20 tournament.

The 25-year-old picked 12 wickets besides scoring 316 runs in 12 games he played in IPL to help Rising Pune Supergiant reach the final before he returned to England for international duty.

Stokes, who did not play in the final match which the Pune team lost by one run against the Mumbai Indians, singled out his franchise captain Smith for putting national rivalries aside and imparting his knowledge to him, an act that could come back to bite Australia when the two sides will meet in the Champions Trophy.

“From playing with a guy you play against – England v Australia and the hype around England v Australia – then playing with him, it was really good actually,” quoted Stokes, as saying.

“I remember doing a batting session with some power hitting where the guy who I will actually be playing against in the Ashes in our winter was helping me, which is something that you would never be able to fathom when you are playing against each other. The IPL is probably the only place where you get that,” he explained.

When quizzed if he was sure that Smith was actually helping him, Stokes said, “It would be a good tactic if he wasn’t.”

Australia and Smith will lock horns with Stokes and England at Edgbaston on June 10 for both teams’ final group match of the Champions Trophy before facing each other in the Ashes series at the end of the year.

And Stokes believes his side deserve to be considered favourite heading into the upcoming 50-over tournament because it is being held on their home soil.

“I think we’re the favourites going into the tournament and we’ve earned the right with how we’ve played over the last two years.We’ve been amazing and we go into this knowing teams are maybe fearing us. But we’re keeping our feet firmly on the ground. We just know as long as we play to our capabilities we’re in with a good chance,” said Stokes, who grabbed eyeballs in the 2017 IPL ( IPL) auction held in February at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Bengaluru as he was snapped up for a record sum of Rs 14.5 crores by RPS.(ANI)