IPL 2024: Mitchell Starc’s rich spell floors Sunrisers Hyderabad, land KKR direct final berth | Crickit
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IPL 2024: Mitchell Starc’s rich spell floors Sunrisers Hyderabad, land KKR direct final berth

By, Ahmedabad
May 22, 2024 04:53 AM IST

The Aussie fast bowler’s 3/34 dents SRH innings before unbeaten fifties by Venkatesh and Shreyas steer Kolkata home

At the end of the powerplay overs, the formidable Sunrisers Hyderabad batting line-up lay in tatters, reduced to 45/4 against Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL’s Qualifier 1 on Tuesday. Their captain Pat Cummins’ decision to bat first had backfired. And the bowler to upset the plans of Cummins was none other than his Australia new ball partner Mitchell Starc.

Kolkata Knight Riders' Mitchell Starc and teammates celebrate a wicket during the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Qualifier 1 match of the Indian Premier League 2024, at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. (ANI)
Kolkata Knight Riders' Mitchell Starc and teammates celebrate a wicket during the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Qualifier 1 match of the Indian Premier League 2024, at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. (ANI)

Throughout the league stage, the KKR management had a tough time fielding questions on the money splurged to get the Australian speedster for 24.75 crore. Except for the game against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium, where he picked a four-wicket haul, Starc hadn’t done much to justify the price tag.

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On Tuesday, the left-arm pacer chose the perfect stage to prove his worth. In his opening spell of 3-0-22-3, he had quelled all doubts over his ability to make a difference in T20 matches. In a dramatic burst with the new ball, he first bowled compatriot Travis Head with a full, swinging delivery. He then beat Nitish Kumar Reddy with pace, inducing a top edge for a skier into the wicket-keeper's gloves. And on the last ball of his third over, he had Shahbaz Ahmed chopping on to the stumps.

IPL 2024 Qualifier 1, KKR vs SRH: As it happened...

From the other end, Vaibhav Arora provided great support by claiming the wicket of in-form Abhishek Sharma, who was caught at cover by Andre Russell. Within two overs, the two most devastating batters in IPL were back in the hut. At the end of five overs, SRH were 39/4.

It was just the kind of start KKR fans would have had dreamt of, and SRH supporters would have least expected.

When Starc returned for his fourth over, 19th of the innings, Cummins top-edged him for six and then glided him through slips for four to drag SRH’s total past 150.

Set a target of 160, Venkatesh Iyer and Shreyas Iyer hit unbeaten half-centuries to complete the chase in 13.4 overs and power twice champions KKR into their first final since 2021. SRH will now play the winner of Wednesday’s Eliminator, between Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bengaluru, in Qualifier 2.

KKR’s chase was off to a flyer. Their fifty was up in 4.2 overs. At the end of the powerplay, the scoreboard read 63/1, leaving them to get 97 off 84 balls. After 10 overs, the equation was down to 53 from 60 balls with eight wickets in hand and the Iyers got their side home with 38 balls left. Opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz, playing his first match of the season, proved a good replacement for Phil Salt, hitting a 14-ball 23.

Cummins opted to bat, hoping that a blinder from his opener Head would land the team straight into the final. The biggest moment in Head's career came at this ground in November, in the World Cup final win over India. But there were no fireworks at Motera from the southpaw’s blade this time. Starc clean bowled the daring stroke-player with a length ball which shaped away slightly. The most expensive player in IPL history was living up to his billing when it mattered most. His release was coming out perfect -- the flick of the wrist at the last moment makes him so sharp off the wicket.

Rahul Tripathi, at No.3, was the only batter who looked adept at handling the KKR new ball bowlers. He needed support from other end and it came from Heinrich Klaasen. The two added 62 runs in 36 balls. Skipper Shreyas Iyer’s move to introduce Varun Chakravarthy in the 11th over, however, paid off. He broke the 62-run fifth wicket partnership by having Klaasen caught in the deep and finished with two wickets for 26 runs.

It was a night when nothing went right for SRH. When he got to 55, the well-set Tripathi was also run out. He was SRH’s last hope of getting to a decent total.

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