England and world's leading all-rounder Ben Stokes became the costliest foreign recruit ever in the Indian Premier League when he was bought by Rising Pune Supergiants franchise for a whopping INR 14.5 crore (USD 2.16 million approx) during the players' auction for the tenth edition of the league. The New Zealand-born player is also the second highest paid active player in the IPL, behind Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli. Stokes was instrumental in paving Pune's road to its maiden IPL final, where they eventually lost to two-time former champions Mumbai Indians.
However, the 26-year-old Stokes lived up to Pune's expectations and justified the big, fat pay cheque with some spectacular performances during the course of the IPL 2017. Stokes, who was only available till the round robin stage and missed the qualifiers as well as the final, ended up as the Pune's fifth highest run-getter and third highest wicket-taker. Stokes amassed 316 runs with the highest score of 103 not out and picked up 12 wickets with a best of 3 for 18.
Stokes' accomplishments with both bat and ball made him one of the most talked-about and valued players during the season - giving him the crown of the best all-rounder in the world. He was also named as the player of the tournament
Now, Stokes is relishing the huge attention which has followed his success.
Opening up for the first time since his IPL heroics, Stokes told the Daily Mirror: "I get a lot of tweets from parents filming their kids and saying 'look at him, he's two years old and he’s smacking it out of the park' or 'here's my little 10-year-old and you're his hero.' And it blows me away."
Stokes also revealed how he spoiled himself with all the mega money he received from the Pune Supergiants. Stokes, who loves cars, spent a part of his USD 2.16 million pay cheque on buying a supercar.
"I won't be touching the rest for a long time. But I had to treat myself, and I love cars," he said.
Stokes is also relieved that he was able to justify the sum he received from Pune. And now that he has tasted success in India, he wants to return to the country every year.
"Looking back on the price tag that everyone talks about, the fact is I would have left with the same amount of money had I done poorly or had I done well - so the only way I was going to judge myself was by how I did on the pitch not by the price. Thankfully things did go pretty well in that sense so I left India with my shoulders up and chest out because I felt good that I had managed to produce big performances for the team," Stokes told the Daily Mirror.
"If it had gone the other way and I hadn't managed to play well then I would have felt like I'd let myself down. It was an amazing six weeks I spent out there, but it does take some getting used to. Just going down for breakfast takes ages because there are people waiting to mob you. I do feel for the Indian players who have it all the time."