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News

Starc: 'Personal stuff aside, the team's start has been fantastic'

'Cricket is all about batting, so if you can contribute with the bat, as an individual it's more pleasing," says Player of the Match Sunil Narine

The price tag of INR 24.75 crore (US$2.98 million approx.) almost ran in with him as Mitchell Starc bowled in his first two IPL 2024 matches, where he went for a combined 0 for 100 in eight overs. It might have on Wednesday in Visakhapatnam too, but with the batters scoring an almost-record IPL score of 272, the pressure was perhaps a little off. And Starc, one of the best in the modern-day game, struck in his second over, getting Mitchell Marsh to slap one to cover point, and then again in his third, when he got David Warner to under-edge an attempted cut on to his stumps.
Figures of 2 for 25 look a lot better than 0 for 53 or 0 for 47, and while Starc didn't quite admit to feeling a bit out of place in the previous matches, he did say that those returns weren't what he had hoped for.
"In a game of T20, we all need a little bit of luck, a few edges go by, a dropped catch or two, that's T20 cricket," he said on the host broadcast after the game. "You move on pretty quickly, because the games come thick and fast. Yeah, probably not the start I wanted, but we've been winning games, so that's what it's about. We're three-nil. And tonight, with bat and ball, we were pretty good, I think.
"It can be brutal at times, particularly on the bowlers [in T20 cricket]. I think we've seen on some of the grounds, some of the scores… so yeah, you take a little bit of luck here and there. Yeah, we're three-nil at the start of the season, and tonight we were pretty clinical with bat and ball. Personal stuff aside, the team's start has been fantastic."
That's the bigger picture. The fact that almost every Knight Rider has put in at least one performance of note in taking KKR to three wins on the trot and the top position on the table after all the teams have played at least three games.
As for the smaller picture, getting Marsh and Warner must have felt good? "It's nice to have those ones in the pocket," Starc said with a laugh.
But before Starc got into his act, it was Vaibhav Arora, 26 years and just 34 T20 matches old and not really anywhere near international cricket, who created a flutter, getting rid of Prithvi Shaw in his first over as Delhi Capitals chased a mammoth 273 for victory. Arora did it at his mid-130s pace with a lot of swing into the right-hand batters and the occasional well-directed bouncer, and finished with 3 for 27.
"On a good wicket like that, trying to keep it as tight as possible, to try and win with a bigger margin so it can help our run rate later on in the tournament"
Sunil Narine
"That's all him, he was fantastic tonight, and I thought he used the short ball really well," Starc said when asked if he had a role to play in Arora's success. "For me, it's probably more conversations around training, around bowling meetings, when we're taking on Dave and Mitch, who some of these guys haven't played before. So just talking a bit around that sort of thing. Just see how they go about their business in the nets, and if they ask questions, just little conversations around that. Certainly not me telling them how to bowl and tonight I thought our whole bowling attack was fantastic."
The bowling came later. First, it was the batting. Sunil Narine - 85 in 29 balls. Angkrish Raghuvanshi - 54 in 27 balls. Andre Russell - 41 in 19 balls. Rinku Singh - 26 in eight balls. KKR - 272 for 7. Just five runs behind Sunrisers Hyderabad's 277 for 3 the other day, which is the highest IPL total ever.
"Not at all. To be honest, the way we were at the start, maybe we'd reach around 210-220, but 270 [272 for 7] was icing on the cake," Shreyas Iyer, the KKR captain, said when asked if topping SRH's total had crossed his mind. "Sunny's [Narine's] job is to go out there and free his arms and see to it that he gets us a great powerplay. Even if he doesn't, we've got other batters who can basically take on the bowlers and see to it that we get a commendable total by the end of the powerplay. So that is the mindset, to keep intent strong and taking on the bowlers."
As for Raghuvanshi, playing his first IPL innings and looking like he has always belonged, Iyer said, "He was fearless from ball one. When you see him, his work ethic is phenomenal. He is top notch in analysing situations and he is a smart batsman when it comes to reading the situation. The way he played today, the shots were literally pleasing to the eye."
Starc and Raghuvanshi and Arora played their part, but the man of the moment, and the Player of the Match, not just for all those quick runs but also the 1 for 29, was Narine.
'Cricket is all about batting, so if you can contribute with the bat, as an individual it's more pleasing. But I still enjoy my bowling," he said when asked which of the two disciplines are more his thing.
What Narine's performance did, of course, was give KKR a huge net run-rate boost. Not only are they top of the table, but their NRR of 2.528 is way ahead of the others' - second-placed Rajasthan Royals are at 1.249.
"On a good wicket like that, trying to keep it as tight as possible, to try and win with a bigger margin so it can help our run rate later on in the tournament," Narine said on the matter.