IPL 2024: Riding on the brilliance of bowling unit, Kolkata win third IPL title

Kolkata bowlers reduce final into a no contest in a sensational opening burst before batters seal dominating season with an eight-wicket win over Hyderabad.
Kolkata Knight Riders celebrate their victory in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 final cricket match against Sunrisers Hyderabad at MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai.
Kolkata Knight Riders celebrate their victory in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 final cricket match against Sunrisers Hyderabad at MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai.Express/ Ashwin Prasath

CHENNAI: Sunday afternoon in Chennai brought with it a strange feeling. It was hot, as always. But the extreme humidity made one feel like there would be some showers in the evening, affecting the 2024 Indian Premier League final. With the local team — Chennai Super Kings — not featuring in the summit clash, the buzz for the Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad contest was not the same.

However, it all had changed by the time Pat Cummins won the toss and opted to bat against the team that hadn’t lost while chasing in 2024. There was a clear fan favourite in the stands — the Kolkata. It was all setting up for the perfect finale. A team that had completely bought into the idea that their batters are key to win games against a side that perhaps had the best combination across the playing XI.

Hyderabad's method of asking both openers to take on the powerplay was not foolproof. They knew it. But as Cummins admitted several times in the last two months, it gave them better odds at winning the match.

KKR, on the other hand, was a near-perfect side. They had explosive openers, an experienced anchor and destructive finishers. But the biggest difference? They had the better bowling attack. Two imposing spinners in Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy and then four pacers, led by Mitchell Starc.

Their problem was that Starc was not necessarily leading from the front even though it had not cost them in results. And like SRH, they too knew that Starc might not deliver every single time. But they knew he had the tools to win games, big games, in a given season. That is exactly what he had done, including the Qualifier 1 against the same opponents they were facing in the final.

As Starc marked his run-up for one last time this season, both teams were hoping that the odds they were betting on would come off. For Hyderabad, the openers to fire. For Kolkata, Starc to give a new-ball breakthrough. In sport, however, one cannot have it both ways.

Having lost his stumps to a near-perfect yorker to Starc in the Qualifier 1, Head let Abhishek take strike. The first ball was a regulation out-swinger that beat Sharma's outside edge. Starc followed that opener with two similar deliveries.

Off the fourth ball, Starc went fuller and the young Indian guided it for a couple while almost getting run out in the process. The tension was building. One could sense that something was about to happen. It did.

Off the fifth ball, Starc ran in before pitching it in a good length area on middle stump. The 139.1 kph ball just moved away, missed Sharma's outside edge before hitting the top of off.

Dream delivery? Yes. Ball of the season? Yes. But it was also so much more. Such was the impact of that delivery that it left Head hanging in the crease all through the next over. And Vaibhav Arora would deliver a perfect outswinger to take the outside edge of the Australian. Three overs later, Starc removed a restless Rahul Tripathi. 3/21 after 4.2 overs. Game. Set. Match. Championship.

From there, it was just a prolonged spell of misery for Hyderabad. Sunil Narine, Harshit Rana, Varun Chakravarthy and Andre Russell all took wickets as SRH were bundled out for 113 in 18.2 overs. Starc, who bagged yet another player of the final award, finished with 2/14, setting up the contest which Kolkata won by eight wickets, adding a third IPL trophy to the cabinet. As Venkatesh Iyer hit the winning runs, the Kolkata players ran into the field of play to get the party started.

Even their mentor Gautam Gambhir had the widest of grins on his face as he lifted Narine, one of the primary architects of this triumph. After all, it was a full circle for the former KKR captain. This venue is where he first lifted an IPL trophy as a captain and player for the same team 12 years ago. He was brought back to KKR as mentor to end the ten-year trophy drought. He did just that, by putting together the most all-round bowling attack of the season.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express