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regular-article-logo Sunday, 16 June 2024

Cyclone KKR blows away Sunrisers for third Indian Premier League crown

Bowlers led by Mitchell Starc tear apart SRH before Venkatesh Iyer makes short work of low target

Indranil Majumdar Chennai Published 27.05.24, 04:41 AM
Kolkata Knight Riders players celebrate after winning the IPL final against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Chennai on Sunday.

Kolkata Knight Riders players celebrate after winning the IPL final against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Chennai on Sunday. PTI picture

Just as Remal was making landfall several hundred kilometres away on the Bengal-Bangladesh coast, another cyclone hit Chennai on Sunday evening. It was called KKR.

If the Kolkata franchise’s bowlers were the gust that knocked Hyderabad’s line-up upside down, their batters drenched the Chepauk in a downpour of runs.

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The one-sided scoreline: Sunrisers Hyderabad 113 all out; Kolkata Knight Riders 114 for 2 in 10.3 overs.

Shah Rukh Khan was a little late joining the party. A viral infection in Ahmedabad had lain him low during Qualifier 1, but he wasn’t going to miss an IPL final featuring his team.

Bollywood’s Badshah probably gave his doctors the heebie-jeebies, sprinting onto the ground to join his Knights for an impromptu jig after the win. For most of the game, he had restricted himself to the corporate box in the first tier of the Karunanidhi Pavilion, till he couldn’t hold himself back any more.

For the neutral expecting a thriller, the match was a letdown, with KKR’s band of merry men conspiring to make it perhaps the most one-sided IPL final ever.

Small targets can sometimes be tricky, but Rahmanullah Gurbaz (39 off 32 balls) and Venkatesh Iyer (52 not out off 26) made sure there were no twists
or turns.

Perhaps the biggest reason for KKR’s success this tournament has been the collective contributions. If its superstars like Sunil Narine and Andre Russell did their job, so did the uncapped and little-known — such as the pace duo Vaibhav Arora and Harshit Rana — as well as the surprise packs like Phil Salt and Ramandeep Singh.

And if record buy Mitchell Starc had been a disappointment through most
of this IPL, the fast bowler recovered his mojo in the last two games to prove he was worth every rupee spent on him.

It was the Australian who nipped Sunrisers’ challenge in the bud, removing Young Turk Abhishek Sharma in his opening over and later accounting for Rahul Tripathi. In between, Vaibhav inflicted a golden duck on the dangerous Travis Head.

Starc’s performance keeps alive the legend of his prowess in the first overs of key games — remember the humiliation inflicted on Kiwi Brendon McCullum in the World Cup final of 2015 and on Head in Qualifier 1?

Head had stayed away from taking first-ball strike this time, so Starc took out Abhishek, instead, on a red-soil wicket that afforded pace and carry.

Following a few balls that swayed outside the off stump, he produced probably the ball of the tournament, one that started around the leg stump and hit the top of Sharma’s off.

The next over, Head, who had gone 11 balls without strike, fell to the first he faced, chasing Vaibhav’s outgoing delivery into Rahmanullah’s gloves.

KKR captain Shreyas Iyer would have been thanking his opposite number, Pat Cummins, for winning the toss and sparing him the trouble of having to make a decision.

Starc ended the Powerplay with 2-14 from his three overs, his third producing only two runs. There was a brief respite for SRH as Aiden Markram and Nitsh Reddy carted Vaibhav for 17 runs in the final Powerplay over to reach 40-3.

Then Russell (3-19), Varun Chakravarthy (1-9), Harshit (2-24) and Narine (1-16) got into the act.

Sunrisers would have been hoping for a few big hits from Heinrich Klaasen, but Harshit returned in the 15th over to knock his stumps off with a slower.

Starc failed to hold on to a skier from his Australian captain, Cummins, in the 16th over, the ball slipping through his fingers like a slippery eel. But nobody would have grudged KKR’s “impact player” of the playoffs that little slip.

The Chennai crowd had made its support for KKR known quite some time before the captains got together for the toss. The vociferous chants grew louder as Sunrisers lost
the plot early, and were bundled for the lowest total in an IPL final.

Still, a few early wickets and the Sunrisers could have clawed their way back. But after Narine’s early dismissal, Gurbaz, and particularly Venkatesh, waded into the Hyderabad bowlers like there was no tomorrow, stamping out any chance of a comeback.

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