Images from Sunday's Indian Premier League match between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals in Abu Dhabi
Ben Stokes came to the Indian Premier League party on Sunday night with a magnificent unbeaten hundred to steer Rajasthan Royals past fancied Mumbai Indians by eight wickets in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The England all-rounder rallied Steve Smith's struggling side after the loss of two early wickets, scoring 107 off 60 balls, which included three sixes and 14 fours, as the Royals chased down the target of 196 with 10 balls to spare.
He and Sanju Samson (54 not out off of 31 balls), threw caution to the wind after the fall of opener Robin Uthappa (13) and skipper Steven Smith (11) and took on Mumbai Indians's famed pace attack of James Pattinson, Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult in an unbroken 152-run partnership to script a memorable victory.
The comprehensive victory over the defending champions not only kept Royals alive in the tournament, but also eliminated Chennai Super Kings, who had beaten Royal Challengers Bangalore earlier in the evening in Dubai, from the play-offs race.
The night, without doubt, belonged to Stokes. Having struggled with his timing in the earlier games, the left-hander, playing only his sixth match this season, did everything correct to boost his run-aggregate this season to 217 runs and take the Royals over the line.
After Smith’s departure, Samson joined Stokes, who collected four boundaries off Trent Boult in the third over, and soon Mumbai Indians were at the receiving end.
The Englishman went on offensive against Krunal Pandya, collecting two fours before a boundary and six against Rahul Chahar with Royals racing to 75 for two after eight overs.
Stokes and Samson played shots at will as the Royals collected 18 and 19 runs off the 13th and 14th over, bowled by Pattinson and Chahar.
Stokes completed his 100 in 59 balls, with a thumping six over deep mid-wicket and fittingly finished the match with a boundary.
Earlier, Hardik Pandya displayed his rare six-hitting ability for the first time this season and scored an unbeaten 60 off 21 balls, which propelled Mumbai Indians to an imposing 195 for 5.
Mumbai Indians suffered a mini-collapse in the middle-overs and but some late hitting by Hardik, who plundered two fours and seven sixes, and Saurabh Tiwary (34 of 25) enabled the defending champions to amass 74 runs from the last four overs.
Tiwary and Hardik shared a 64-run stand for the fifth wicket.
Tiwary was brutal against Archer (2-31) in the 17th over, smashing two fours and a maximum while Hardik hammered four sixes off Ankit Rajpoot (0-60) in the 18th over, which went for 27 runs.
Hardik launched into Kartik Tyagi (1-45) in the final over, hitting him for three sixes and two fours. His blitzkrieg could prove to be the difference in the game.
After Mumbai Indians lost opener Quinton De Kock (6) early, Ishan Kishan (37 off 36 balls) and Suryakumar Yadav (40 off 26) rallied the innings with an 83-run second-wicket partnership.
Kishan and Surya tore into pacer Rajpoot, smashing a six each as Mumbai raced to 59 for one after six overs.
Surya went on the offensive against Shreyas Gopal, collecting two boundaries in the ninth over.
But Rajasthan pulled things back by dismissing Kishan, Surya and Kieron Pollard (6) in quick succession as Mumbai slipped to 101 for four.
Kishan perished courtesy a one-handed blinder from Archer at third-man, off Tyagi, and then Gopal removed Surya and Pollard in the 13th over.
While Surya gave a sitter to Ben Stokes, Pollard was undone by a googly, which uprooted his stumps.
Thereafter, it was the Hardika Pandya show.