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regular-article-logo Thursday, 20 June 2024

IPL 2024: Mitchell Starc's swing back to form proves his class, hard reply to critics

The left-arm Australia speedster gave them more ammunition as he had a harro­wing time with the ball in the first half of this IPL with even Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s lower-order batter Karn Sharma taking him to the cleaners in the deciding over of the game at the Eden

Sayak Banerjee Calcutta Published 27.05.24, 07:32 AM
Kolkata Knight Riders’ principal owner Shah Rukh Khan, with son Aryan Khan in tow, greets the crowd after the team’s third IPL title triumph at the Chepauk on Sunday

Kolkata Knight Riders’ principal owner Shah Rukh Khan, with son Aryan Khan in tow, greets the crowd after the team’s third IPL title triumph at the Chepauk on Sunday PTI

Fans, critics, social media... many had questioned or were quite sarcastic towards the Kolkata Knight Riders shelling out Rs 24.75 crore to rope in Mitchell Starc for this year’s IPL.

The left-arm Australia speedster gave them more ammunition as he had a harro­wing time with the ball in the first half of this IPL with even Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s lower-order batter Karn Sharma taking him to the cleaners in the deciding over of the game at the Eden.

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Fortunately, the Knight Riders had somehow scraped through with a one-run win in that game, but Starc’s form was turning out to be a headache. In his first IPL after close to a decade, that was the last thing Starc would have wanted and that too, before the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the United States.

But as the saying goes, form is temporary and class is permanent. And Starc proved exactly that.

He suffered a finger injury in that RCB game and was benched for the home game against Punjab Kings, where his replacement Dushmantha Chameera was no better (wicketless and conceding 48 runs in three overs). But prior to that Punjab game, Starc had a lengthy discussion during a training session at Eden Gardens with KKR head coach Chandrakant Pandit.

On his return to the XI, Starc didn’t find instant su­ccess in the home clash against Delhi Capitals, though he did pick up the key scalp of the explosive Jake Fraser-McGurk. But thereafter, at the Wankhede against Mumbai Indians, he found his rhythm when his team needed him the most, finishing with 4/33 when KKR were defending just 170.

Since then, there has been no looking back. From that MI game till the final in Chennai on Sunday, Starc took 10 wickets in five matches at an economy rate of 8.4 on largely flat surfaces.

More importantly, in the playoffs which matters the most, Starc finished with 5/48 in seven overs at an economy rate of less than seven an over.

What exactly did Starc do differently to bounce back? Instead of being too full, he pulled his length back a little bit and concentrated on hitting the hard lengths that can lead to variable bounce. At the same time, he got the ball to move as well.

If Starc finds the correct length and then extracts swing and movement as well, he’s still as lethal as he used to be during his early days.

The Sunrisers twice were at the receiving end. His Australia teammate got a dose of that in Qualifier 1 in Ahmedabad. On Sunday in Chennai, Starc produced a peach of a delivery to send the promising Abhishek Sharma back. Again, in the game’s opening over.

Starc knows how to castle his critics.

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