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regular-article-logo Friday, 24 May 2024

Knights struggle as Starc leaks runs again, but RCB lose plot in last-over drama

An overall economy of 11.48, the most among the regular KKR bowlers who have featured in all the matches, Mitchell Starc went for 55 in his three overs on Sunday. Much to KKR’s relief, he held on to Karn Sharma’s return catch on his follow-through off the match’s penultimate delivery

Indranil Majumdar Calcutta Published 22.04.24, 10:12 AM
Lockie Ferguson (left), the RCB No. 11, gets run out off the last ball of the match as KKR steal a one-run win at Eden Gardens on Sunday.

Lockie Ferguson (left), the RCB No. 11, gets run out off the last ball of the match as KKR steal a one-run win at Eden Gardens on Sunday. Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha

Kolkata Knight Riders had snapped Mitchell Starc for a record Rs 24.75 crore at the auction in Dubai. The franchise’s CEO Venky Mysore had justified the price tag, saying the Australian fast bowler “was a preferred player from skill-set standpoint”.

Seven matches into IPL 2024, the left-armer’s profligacy is turning out to be their major worry. However hard the think-tank might try to justify his inclusion, Starc’s abilities in the shortest format of the game has always remained under a cloud.

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An overall economy of 11.48, the most among the regular KKR bowlers who have featured in all the matches, Starc went for 55 in his three overs on Sunday. Much to KKR’s relief, he held on to Karn Sharma’s return catch on his follow-through off the match’s penultimate delivery after being tonked for three sixes in the over.

Royal Challengers Bengaluru were flirting with a Super Over with three needed off the last ball. Ramandeep Singh’s throw was wayward but Phil Salt managed to whip off the bails to deny RCB a second run and the Knights won by one run. The defeat almost ended RCB’s chances of making it to the playoffs.

The contest had all the makings of a potboiler: Salt’s power hitting in the Powerplay, Shreyas Iyer’s controlled half-century, Ramandeep Singh’s cameo, Virat Kohli’s controversial dismissal, Will Jacks and Rajat Patidar’s 102-run stand off 48 balls besides Harshit Rana and Andre Russell’s vital breakthroughs which turned it KKR’s way.

KKR player Russell takes shots during KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) Vs. RCB (Royal Challengers Bengaluru) IPL cricket match at Eden Gardens on Sunday, April 21, 2024.

KKR player Russell takes shots during KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) Vs. RCB (Royal Challengers Bengaluru) IPL cricket match at Eden Gardens on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha

The 223-run chase was never going to be easy on a two-paced Eden Gardens wicket. Starc’s extra yard of pace made it easier for the RCB batters to launch the offensive. He went for 22 in his second over as Jacks (55 off 32) launched into him while Patidar (52 off 23) took care of the spinners.

Russell sent them back within a space of three balls and two more quick wickets in Sunil Narine’s next over brought KKR back into the reckoning. The visitors seemed to lose the plot in the middle overs but Dinesh Karthik kept them afloat.

Twenty-one were needed off the last over and Karn provided the fireworks before Starc sent him back to dash RCB’s hopes. But they were very much in control till the 16th over of the KKR innings by taking the pace off the ball.

The Knights’ innings could be summed up in two parts: Salt’s 48 off 14 which contributed to their 75/3 in the Powerplay.

The middle overs were a tale of struggle until Ramadeep Singh’s 24 not out off 9 balls, including two consecutive sixes and a boundary in the 18th over, provided the impetus to their 67 runs in the last four overs.

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