Steve Smith has showered praise on Ben Stokes, who struck his maiden T20 century to help Rising Pune Supergiant beat Gujarat Lions in their IPL clash on Monday, saying the England all-rounder is a perfect fit for the franchise.
Stokes, IPL's most expensive foreign player, struck and unbeaten 103 that saw Rising Pune recover from 10 for 3 to chase down 162 with five wickets to spare at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
Chasing a modest 162 to win, the hosts were reeling at 42 for four when the England batsman came out firing on all cylinders to ensure that the good job done by the bowlers does not go waste.
He also braved cramps towards the end of the chase and batted with determination to help side take two points and enhance their play-offs chances. His 63-ball knock was studded with seven fours and six sixes.
Stokes has won three Man of the Match awards in eight matches in this edition of the IPL and has justified to the heavy price of Rs. 14.5 crores with which he was bought by the franchise at the auctions held in Bengaluru.
"He's been hitting the ball really well," ESPNcricinfo quoted Smith as saying.
"We're very happy with where he's at and how he's played. That was an amazing innings: under pressure, came in at three for nothing and to play the way he did, he timed his innings beautifully, took the game on at the right time. It was a fantastic knock to get us home. He hit some very clean balls there, chose the right balls to hit, too."
"He's always said from the start that he judges himself on how he plays. He's not going to put any extra pressure on himself just because he has a big price tag next to his name," he added.
The Australian skipper also revealed how he had asked the team owners to go all out for Stokes during the auctions.
"We were very excited to get him. I had said before the auction to the guys [owners] just do what you have to get him," Smith said.
"All-rounders are so valuable in T20 cricket and he bats, bowls and fields well. He's a perfect fit for our team, particularly after Mitchell Marsh was ruled out as well. He's done a terrific job for us. We paid a big amount to get him. We know he's a quality player. [He] certainly earned his cash tonight," he added.
Rising Pune Supergiant have won five of their last six games, with three victories at home.
They next play Kolkata Knight Riders at the iconic Eden Gardens, Kolkata on Wednesday.