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Stokes credits Smith for improving his game during IPL

23 May 2017

"We are just going to try to do what we have been doing over that last two years which is to go out there and perform to the best of our capabilities and always want to be on the front foot", he said.

"Cricket is a religion out in India and they go mad for it. People will queue up five hours for a seat just to see Dhoni walk out to bat. That's where all the pressure came on myself, in wanting to go out there and put in performances for the team I was playing for".

Stokes, who became the most expensive foreign player in the IPL after joining Rising Pune Supergiant for Rs 145m (£1.73m, $2.16m), helped his side finish second in the league table, contributing with 316 runs and 12 wickets.

Stokes defended the decision, made by the European Central Bank, insisting that all IPL franchises knew the position with England players before bidding and he maintained the bonding trip was not, as Kevin Pietersen suggested, just "going for a few beers in Spain".

"I think we're the favourites going into the tournament and we've earned the right with how we've played over the last two years", said Stokes.

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As for the money, "once the whole thing started you wipe that under the carpet", he says, "and you judge yourself exclusively on how you perform on the pitch".

Stokes used the same three words to caption an Instagram video of a group gym session at the camp and insists the time was not wasted.

"Being able to work hard on those skills for six weeks was a really good thing to be able to do", Stokes says.

"Once you get in the same team together you obviously want the same goal, which is to win, and if a guy wants to improve on something and another guy has a tip that can help they are obviously going to share that with you", said Stokes, England's Test vice-captain.

The main benefit is that "all in all I think my areas are a lot better and tighter than they have been recently in one-day cricket, which came down from just working exclusively with [the bowling coach] Eric Simons over the six weeks I was there". "You would hope that coming away from that tournament all parts of my game have got better".

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England are now getting ready for a three-match One Day International series against South Africa ahead of hosting the Champions Trophy that begins on 1 June.

"At the start of the season, I had stressed on the importance of reading the conditions and, because we read them better than the rest, we were effective and competitive though we weren't star-studded or as packed with resources, especially towards the end of the tournament, as some other teams".

'We're hoping to take some momentum in, being one of the favourites.

The worry is that it will all take a toll. And if there are any more conflicts in the schedule he is clear about where his loyalties lie.

Worldwide players have long described the IPL as a melting pot of ideas and it is one reason why Kevin Pietersen was such a vocal advocate of England players experiencing the tournament.

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