Champions Trophy 2017 June 11, 2017

IPL increases exposure to big moments of play - Stokes

What stood out about Ben Stokes' century against Australia was that he took his time to build an innings secure in his knowledge that he had the power and range of shots to make up time later in the chase © Getty Images

Experience of playing in the IPL helped Ben Stokes compile the "best innings" of his ODI career to date, against Australia at Edgbaston.

Stokes plundered an unbeaten century - a career-best 102 - as England overcame a sticky start to their run-chase to secure victory and sentence Australia to an early departure from the Champions Trophy.

Stokes had only once previously made fifty - an innings of 69 when England defeated Pakistan at Leeds in 2016 - when batting second in an ODI. And so powerful and clean was Stokes' hitting against Australia, it earned praise from Virat Kohli on Twitter.

Afterwards, as well as crediting the big-match exposure of the IPL, Stokes also suggested the insight of working alongside other top players at the tournament had contributed to his improvement.

"I think that was my best innings in terms of chasing," Stokes said. "I don't think my record is too flash in terms of chasing for England in ODI cricket. It's also nice on a personal level to be there at the end of a chase.

"The whole thing with the IPL is the exposure you get to big moments in games playing in front of a huge crowd all the time. You get exposed to those situations more.

"At Edgbaston we were 35 for 3 but you can just mentally look back to a time in the past and reflect on that and also take confidence in knowing that you have been in that situation before and done well.

"You play against the best players in the world, whether batsmen or bowlers. Knowing that you have done well coming into a tournament like this it gives you confidence that you can do well against some of the world's best batsmen and bowlers."

Stokes enjoyed a successful first season in the IPL. Going into the tournament under some pressure as the most expensive pick in the auction - he was bought by Rising Pune Supergiant for £1.7m - he finished with a maiden T20 century (against Gujarat Lions), 12 wickets and some outstanding displays of fielding to earn the Most Valuable Player award. And, among the top players he rubbed shoulders with while he was there was Australia captain, Steven Smith, who suggested a minor technical change.

"He just gave a little tip out in India, something on my technique, something that he felt could help me with," Stokes said. "Just that I was losing my backside a bit when I was hitting.

"I am always trying to get better as a player, no matter how things are going. I'm always trying to expand my game and look into how I can hit more areas or bowl different balls or whatever it is. I'm always looking to learn and am never happy with how I am going. I think once you get comfortable with what you are offering it is dangerous territory to be in."

The most noticeable aspect of Stokes' batting on Saturday was his composure. Whereas, in the past, he might have become flustered by the match situation or the number of dot balls he faced against a decent Australia attack, on this occasion he gave himself the time to build an innings secure in the knowledge that he had the power and range of strokes to make up time.

"I didn't put any pressure on myself," Stokes said. "I knew I could catch up. Obviously having someone like Eoin Morgan at the other end, playing like he is does, takes the pressure off. He is always looking to be positive and I think we are boundary-hitters, so we know that if we have a few dot balls it is not going to faze us too much.

"We are always going to try to take the positive route regardless of the start that we get, play every good ball on its merit but at the same time we know we have got to be aggressive and on the front foot because that is what has made us such a dangerous team. Being 35 for 3 doesn't mean there is any real reason for us to change that."

Despite the praise for England's batting, Stokes was keen to credit the bowlers for their part in England's success. He praised Mark Wood and Adil Rashid, in particular, with both men bagging four-wicket hauls as England again found a way to claim wickets in the middle-over period during which other attacks have struggled to make much of an impression. He also confirmed that his knee, a source of concern going into the tournament, was giving him no trouble.

"There will probably be quite a lot of write-ups about how we chased," he said. "But the fact that the bowlers managed to restrict Australia to under 300 - when at one stage it looked as if they might score 340 - was credit to how we bowled, for Woody and Rash to get four wickets each on that wicket with that boundary."

"My bowling is obviously not back to where I want it to be but I am trying and training to get it back to where I want it to be. My knee is good. The confidence is there now knowing that I am not going to have to worry about it."

England, the only unbeaten side in the competition, took Sunday off and will resume training on Monday in Cardiff. Their semi-final takes place there on Wednesday.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo