Starc destroys Head’s stumps to get better of Cummins in IPL

Mitchell Starc needed just two balls to justify his $4.4 million Indian Premier League pricetag, blasting out Travis Head’s stumps to set Kolkata Knight Riders on their way to a resounding victory over Pat Cummins’ Hyderabad in the qualifying final.

Over the course of a long tournament, Starc’s returns have been patchy, but figures of 3-34 with all his wickets arriving in the opening power play at the cavernous Ahmedabad stadium underlined why KKR spent so much to get him.

starc destroys head’s stumps to get better of cummins in ipl

The Kolkata Knight Riders paid big money for Mitchell Starc, and he delivered against Mumbai Indians in the IPL qualifying final.

Starc had been given the opportunity to be a heavy influence on proceedings by Cummins’ decision to bat first with the pitch at its freshest.

This was a logical call given the huge scores often chalked up by SRH in an IPL where the addition of the impact substitute has meant teams effectively get to play an extra batter.

But it contrasted with how, in the semi and final of last year’s World Cup, also in India, Cummins backed Starc and the rest of his bowling attack to restrict South Africa and then India to manageable targets to chase.

With Starc bowling so swiftly and well – he might even have had a fourth wicket had KKR reviewed and lbw shout for a delivery that replays showed to have struck Rahul Tripathi flush on the boot in front of the stumps – the game was all but done as a contest inside six overs.

“I guess I have played a fair bit of cricket, so I have been fortunate enough to play in some big games and some big occasions,” Starc said between innings. “Nine months ago [in the ODI World Cup final] we were here in front of a full stadium. It was nice to get the team off to a good start that we needed [today].

“We know the power play wickets are very important. The way Sunrisers take on the power play, they have sort of matched us throughout the season in terms of getting off to good starts. It was great to get power play wickets and I think our bowling group was fantastic throughout.”

Eventually, Sunrisers were dismissed for 159, a target KKR chased down inside 14 overs, thanks to unbeaten half centuries to Venkatesh Iyer and captain Shreyas Iyer.

For Head, his second consecutive duck when defeated by movement with the new ball provided a reminder that his ultra aggression will sometimes come with down days. Australia’s planners will hope that Head can take his prolific IPL scoring (he is the tournament’s third-highest runs corer with 533 off half as many balls) into the World Cup next month alongside Starc’s incisive opening spells.

“I might keep that one in the back pocket for when he starts to give me some niggle and I have to pull it out on him,” Starc joked. “He’s been phenomenal through the tournament. But we knew he was going to be a big wicket.

“Obviously, Abhishek [Sharma] for them at the top as well. That partnership has been key for them, so to get both of them pretty cheap was great and we got set on our way today.”

KKR’s eight-wicket victory means they are the first team into the IPL final. Cummins, Head and SRH will now wait to see which of Rajasthan Royals or Royal Challengers Bangalore will win the right to face them for the other spot in an elimination final on Thursday morning.

“I guess we have earned the right to have one of those days and still win tournaments,” Cummins said. “Not our day, but good thing we have another crack at it.

“A bit off the pace. I think you have those days in T20 cricket. Even when you are a very good side, you have some days where it doesn’t quite work out.

“A few guys didn’t get off to starts, so we were probably short of where we wanted to be with the bat. And then yeah, couldn’t get it done with the ball. Kolkata bowled really well. That wicket got better, but there was a little bit in it early.”

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