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Superb Stoinis hits stunning century in IPL classic

Marcus Stoinis has made a brilliant century, his first in nine seasons of playing in the Indian Premier League, to carry Lucknow Super Giants to victory over Chennai Super Kings.

Facing Chennai's daunting 4-210 Lucknow lost Quinton de Kock without scoring bringing Stoinis, promoted to No.3,  to the crease after three balls.

The 34-year-old took his time, playing himself in, then accelerated to pummel the hosts for 124 not out off 63 balls. It was his second highest T20 score, eclipsed only by the astonishing 147 not out he made for Melbourne Stars against Sydney Sixers in January 2020.

With the T20 World Cup now less than six weeks away it was a timely moment for the muscular West Australian to find form, having previously made 130 runs at 21.67 in the campaign.

Stoinis was not one of the 23 players given a contract by Cricket Australia earlier this year and missed the tour of New Zealand with a back injury.

"I've a great relationship with the coach (Andrew McDonald), me not getting a contract - I knew that awhile ago," he said.

"It is great to get young kids a spot and let them have a crack. I am absolutely fine with that on the contract front. On the playing front I want to make sure I am there. That why it is lucky for me to have this competition."

Stoinis' innings suggests he could be a top order option at the World Cup but he added:  "There's plenty of better openers than me. It is nice to get in early and build an innings but I am also set there in the middle order."

"He played like a warrior," said teammate Deepak Hooda, who made a useful six-ball 17 in the partnership of 55 in 19 balls that took Super Giants over the line.

Stoinis displayed his customary power, smashing six sixes and 13 fours, but also showed some deft touches, rotating the strike smartly and using the depth and width of the crease.

Needing 17 to win off the final over he lofted the first ball over long-on for six, the second straight for four, and the third slashed through the vacant third slip region for another boundary. That was a no ball, and Stoinis pulled the free hit for another four to win with three balls to spare.

It was the perfect response to his own bowling being battered in much the same way, his four overs disappearing for 49.

Chennai captain Ruturaj Gaikwad made a classy unbeaten 108 off 60 and put on 104 in 47 balls with Shivam Dube, who thumped 66 off 27.

Stoinis went for nine off both his opening overs, roughly par in this year's run-laden IPL, but his last two went for 31 as Gaikwad and Dube cut loose.

"We are 10-15 runs above par," said Dube confidently between the innings.

Stoinis, however, would have the last word.