More money, no problem for Mitchell Starc after Aussie fires Kolkata to third IPL title

The Kolkata Knight Riders celebrate with the trophy after winning the Indian Premier League (IPL). Picture: R.Satish Babu / AFP

The Kolkata Knight Riders celebrate with the trophy after winning the Indian Premier League (IPL). Picture: R.Satish Babu / AFP

Published May 27, 2024


Mitchell Starc bowled a sensational opening spell to fire Kolkata Knight Riders to their third Indian Premier League title with a eight-wicket thrashing of Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Sunday final.

Kolkata bowled out Hyderabad for IPL's lowest total of 113 in a final as Australia's left-arm quick Starc returned figures of 2-14 to live up to his top billing in the world's most lucrative T20 tournament.

Starc went to Kolkata for a record $2.98 million in the December auction and ended the IPL with two stellar performances, including a match-winning 3-34 in the first play-off to hammer the same opponent.

Kolkata's batsmen had it easy and despite Sunil Narine's early departure, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who made 39, and Venkatesh Iyer, on 52 not out, helped the team home with 9.3 overs to spare after a partnership of 91.

Iyer, a left-handed batsman, reached his 50 in 24 balls and hit the winning runs to trigger celebrations for Kolkata, who remained the most dominant team after they ended top of the table with 20 points in the league phase.

Skipper Shreyas Iyer was unbeaten on six, and at the other end, when Kolkata players came rushing on to the pitch and the stadium fireworks went off.

"Great night for KKR. What a game, what a season," player-of-the-match Starc said.

"Probably the two most exciting teams in the final. We have had a fantastic squad of bowlers and batters, our staff have been fantastic to get everyone peaking."

On the pressure of his high price tag, 34-year-old Starc said: "There's been jokes about the money. I am experienced, that's helped with all the expectations."

Players and national teams now move into the T20 World Cup starting June 1 in the West Indies and the United States.

'Mom is watching'

Afghanistan's Gurbaz, who left the tournament midway through to be with his ailing mother back home and returned for the play-offs, said: "My mom is watching from home.

"She is feeling good now. I asked mom before the match if she wanted anything. She said just the win," added the wicket-keeper-batsman.

Kolkata's co-owner and Bollywood superstar actor Shah Rukh Khan was in attendance and congratulated his champion players after he suffered from a heat-related illness in the first qualifier in Ahmedabad.

It was Kolkata's second title triumph at the venue, after they won their first trophy in 2012, and a near-capacity crowd at the 36,000-seater stadium cheered on.

Narine, a left-hand batsman and a right-arm spinner, ended as the player of the series with 488 runs as an opener and 17 wickets.

Gambhir effect

Apart from the big signing of Starc, they got Gautam Gambhir as mentor after the former India batsman led the team to their first two titles, including in 2014.

Hyderabad skipper Pat Cummins won the toss and elected to bat first and go with his team's strength of scoring big, after they racked up IPL record totals of 277 and 287 in this year's edition.

Hyderabad took Cummins for $2.5 million in the same auction and made him captain after he led Australia to two titles, including the World Test Championship and the ODI World Cup last year.

"So many (positives), the style with which the guys played especially with the bat. Lot of skills to get to 250 three times," said Cummins.

"I loved how brave the guys were. It was a lot of fun, great season."

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But it was Starc who took the limelight as he struck in his first over when he bowled in-form Indian batsman Abhishek Sharma, for two, on a delivery that pitched in the middle and caught the top of off stump.

Travis Head followed his fellow left-hand opener Abhishek to the dug-out, caught behind for his second duck in three matches off fast bowler Vaibhav Arora.

Starc struck again and the opposition top-order was in disarray at 47-4 inside seven overs.

Andre Russell took down Aiden Markram for 20 and wickets kept tumbling as fellow South African Heinrich Klaasen fell for 16.

Cummins, who was dropped on 10 by Starc, took the team past 100 before falling for 24 off Russell, who ended with figures of 3-19.