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Final (N), Chennai, May 26, 2024, Indian Premier League
(10.3/20 ov, T:114) 114/2

KKR won by 8 wickets (with 57 balls remaining)


Trailblazers KKR and SRH face off for ultimate glory

You may not have predicted them to be the last two teams standing, but they are fitting finalists

George Binoy
George Binoy

Match details

IPL final: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Sunrisers Hyderabad
Chennai, May 26

Big picture: Did you think it would be KKR vs SRH?

No one gets to the IPL final without earning it. The league, contested over two months of play-sleep-travel-repeat in the sweltering Indian summer, tests every aspect of a franchise and individual. It examines a team's culture, bench strength, and ability to plan for diverse conditions and opponents. It tests a player's skill, fitness and versatility. Sure, luck may have a say every now and then, but it tends to average out over the course of a grueling season. To be the last two standing from a field of ten is quite the achievement already.
So, did you predict this final at the start of IPL 2024?
Sunrisers Hyderabad had finished last in 2021, eighth in 2022, and last again in 2023. KKR placed seventh in the previous two seasons. SRH broke auction records to buy an overseas fast bowler unproven in the IPL and made him their captain. KKR in turn broke SRH's record bid for a fast bowler who hadn't played in the league since 2015. Both moves, which left the teams with little wriggle room to make other big moves, were met with widespread skepticism. And neither were considered favourites to be playing in Chennai on May 26.
They've got here by playing astonishing cricket: KKR and SRH have scored faster than any team ever has in an IPL season. After four other sides began with regulation totals in the first two games of the season, KKR and SRH went crashbangwallop against each other at Eden Gardens, and never stopped swinging. They forced the rest to level up too and the ones that couldn't had no chance of competing.
KKR won their two trophies in 2012 and 2014. SRH in 2016. After their struggles in recent seasons, these two teams have been at the forefront of the batting revolution in IPL 2024, and it is fitting that one of them will add to their tally of titles on Sunday.

Form guide

KKR WWWWW (last five matches, most recent first)

Previous meetings: KKR 2, SRH 0

Their first match was the third game of the season, at Eden Gardens, where Andre Russell powered KKR to 208 and SRH, propelled by Heinrich Klaasen, finished on 204. They then met in Qualifier 1 in Ahmedabad, after finishing No. 1 and 2 in the league, and KKR won by eight wickets and 38 balls to spare once Mitchell Starc bowled Travis Head second ball.
Only once before has a team won the IPL final after losing all their previous matches that season against their fellow finalists - when Mumbai Indians beat Rising Pune Supergiant in the 2017 final, after losing both league matches and Qualifier 1 to them. In six other seasons, the team that went into the final 0-2 or 0-3 against their opponents, ended up losing.

Team news and Impact Player strategy

Kolkata Knight Riders
Unless there are any niggles, KKR are likely to play the same combination that beat SRH in Qualifier 1. Nitish Rana and Vaibhav Arora are likely to swap in and out as Impact Players depending on whether they bat or bowl first.
Likely XII: 1 Sunil Narine, 2 Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), 3 Venkatesh Iyer, 4 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 5 Nitish Rana, 6 Rinku Singh, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Ramandeep Singh, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Harshit Rana, 11 Varun Chakravarthy, 12 Vaibhav Arora
Sunrisers Hyderabad
SRH's combination may not be as clear cut. They may not have brought Shahbaz Ahmed in as Impact Player in Qualifier 2 against Rajasthan Royals had they not lost wickets in a hurry. He went on to score 18 and bowl a match-winning spell of 3 for 23 with his left-arm spin. But with as many as four left-hand batters in the KKR line-up - Narine, Venkatesh, Rana and Rinku - SRH might have to come up with an alternative bowling strategy than two left-arm spinners for the final.
There's also a question around their fourth overseas player. Aiden Markram played Qualifier 2 after missing five games but got out for 1 off 2 balls to continue a poor run of form. When he was on the bench, SRH tried allrounder Marco Jansen and legspinner Vijayakanth Viyaskanth without much success. Is it too late for Glenn Phillips to make an entrance this season?
Likely XII 1 Travis Head 2 Abhishek Sharma 3 Rahul Tripathi 4 Aiden Markram 5 Heinrich Klaasen, 6 Nitish Kumar Reddy, 7 Abdul Samad, 8 Shahbaz Ahmed/Mayank Markande, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 12 T Natarajan

In the spotlight: Shreyas Iyer and Pat Cummins

Shreyas Iyer is the only captain to lead two different franchises to the IPL final: Delhi Capitals in 2020 and KKR this year. The last few months have been turbulent for Shreyas. He struggled with a back injury after the 2023 ODI World Cup, was dropped from India's Test side, lost his BCCI contract, and wasn't in the running for a place in the squad for the T20 World Cup. And though he's scoring faster than he ever has this IPL (345 runs at a strike rate of 146.19), he's had a fairly non-descript season as a batter. Most of his runs have come after the top order has done the heavy lifting. His most impactful innings, however, came against SRH in Qualifier 1 - 58 not out off 24 balls in the chase - and in the absence of the prolific Phil Salt at the top, he could be called upon once again to play an innings of substance.
As captain of Australia, Pat Cummins has won a World Test Championship, retained the Ashes in England and won the ODI World Cup in India, all in the last 12 months. But if he leads SRH to the IPL title as an overseas captain in his first ever leadership gig in T20 cricket, that could be his most impressive achievement yet. He's their second highest wicket-taker this season (17 with an economy of 9.29) but he too has had an understated season with no headlining performance. If he delivers when it matters most - like he did in Ahmedabad in November - don't be surprised.

Stats that matter

  • KKR's bowlers are in red-hot form. They have taken 47 wickets in their last five completed matches - the most by any team in a five-match stretch in the history of the IPL. Their bowlers have a collective average of 16 and economy of 7.95 in this period, a huge improvement from the average of 31.38 and economy of 10 in their first eight games. With both KKR and SRH having line-ups full of explosive batters, the bowling could make the difference.
  • Qualifier 1 was the first time Head faced Starc in a T20 and he was bowled for a duck second ball. If he gets past Starc in Chennai, we will be entering new match-up territory. Head has faced only 14 balls from Narine and Russell, and none from Varun.
  • Abhishek Sharma has a poor match-up against Russell (two dismissals in 12 balls) but if he gets to face KKR's spinners, he strikes at more than 175 against both Varun and Narine.
  • Klaasen was the danger man for KKR in their first match against SRH this season. He has a T20 strike rate of more than 200 against Varun and Starc, and 166.67 against Narine, with only one dismissal in 42 balls. Russell, however, has kept Klaasen quiet - conceding only 12 runs off ten balls.
  • Pitch and conditions

    A sudden shower from around 5.45 pm on the eve of the final forced KKR to cancel their training session. It lasted for more than an hour but the forecast for Sunday is fair: temperature in the 30-35 Celsius with high humidity, and less than 5% chance of rain, according to Accuweather.
    The pitch for the final is a red-soil strip and could be more batting friendly, unlike the black-soil surface on which RR were spun out by SRH in Qualifier 2. It is also more centrally located on the square, which means the boundary dimensions will be more even. The big question, however, is whether there will be dew. There usually is, but there wasn't during RR's chase against SRH on Friday.
    "I feel the pitch is completely different from what they played yesterday," Shreyas said on the eve of the match. "It's a red-soil [pitch] and yesterday, if I'm not wrong, it was a black-soil wicket. We don't know how the wicket is going to play tomorrow and also looking at the match from the TV, we felt the dew factor would play a great role, but it didn't and the ball started spinning"


    "I think data and analytics is there as a tool to use, but it's just, you know, it's one factor in a decision-making process. So, you know, data only takes you so far. So, I think there's still a strong place for kind of gut feel and intuition."
    Pat Cummins on his captaincy style
    "I feel that he has got immense knowledge about how the game is played. He has won two titles previously with KKR and his strategies have been spot-on in terms of what execution we have to make against the opponents."
    Shreyas Iyer on KKR team mentor Gautam Gambhir

    George Binoy is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

    Win Probability
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    Over 11 • KKR 114/2

    KKR won by 8 wickets (with 57 balls remaining)
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