Ben Stokes back bowling in IPL earlier than expected as he manages knee injury

England Test captain Ben Stokes made an earlier-than-expected return to bowling during his second match for Chennai Super Kings at the Indian Premier League.

Stokes has been carefully managing a long-standing issue with his left knee over the winter and admitted after the Wellington Test at the end of February that he was frustrated at his inability to perform fully as an all-rounder.

With the Ashes on the horizon this summer, both he and England head coach Brendon McCullum insisted no gambles would be taken with his fitness at the IPL and it was initially expected that he would be operating as a specialist batter.

Mike Hussey confirmed as much in an interview with the PA news agency, suggesting it could be a couple of weeks before he considered a role with the ball.

But he suggested in a television interview ahead of Monday’s clash against Lucknow Super Giants that he was ahead of schedule, explaining: “Everything is coming on nicely. I feel like I’ve worked really hard to get to the place where I am at the moment with my knee.

“I think I might be able to turn the arm over tonight.”

He duly opened the bowling as CSK set about defending a score of 217 for seven – of which Stokes contributed eight – on a batting-friendly pitch.

Stokes’ solitary over was hit for 18, including two fours and a six from West Indian Kyle Mayers, but merely watching him get through the experience without a fitness setback would have satisfied watching England fans.

Moeen Ali was the star of the show as the Super Kings won by 12 runs, taking four for 26, including the prized wickets of KL Rahul and Krunal Pandya.