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KKR were just waiting to 'put up a show' after long break, says Venkatesh Iyer

"We now have a realistic chance of lifting that trophy and I'm really, really looking forward to it"

After ten days of no cricket, Kolkata Knight Riders were "raring to go" in the in the first qualifier of IPL 2024 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Venkatesh Iyer said after their thumping eight-wicket win.
"The last game KKR played was on the 11th. So we were all desperate to go out there and showcase our talent," Venkatesh told the host broadcaster after the game.
KKR's previous on-field action came in a win at home against Mumbai Indians on May 11, after which they had two washouts against Gujarat Titans and Rajasthan Royals but still finished No. 1 on the table. Venkatesh had been worried that the break might hamper their performance in the playoffs.
"To be honest, in a tournament like this, momentum is extremely important. We've seen that with RCB. They've won games continuously and it's the momentum that has taken them forward," Venkatesh said. "Similarly even we wanted that momentum. Because we were playing really good cricket. So [we wanted] to be able to go out there and just wait for the rain to stop [in the last two games], and we didn't get enough practice as well.
"But the best thing was we were table-toppers, and being table-toppers gives you a lot of confidence heading into the playoffs. Credit to the coaching staff, the entire management and the owners. [Co-owners] SRK [Shah Rukh Khan] sir and Jay [Mehta] sir also came today. They gave us a little pep talk. So the spirits were really, really high and the boys were motivated to go out there and put up a show."
KKR were on top of proceedings right from the word go, despite losing the toss. Mitchell Starc bowled Travis Head in the first over and Abhishek Sharma was caught at cover in the next. SRH lost two more wickets to Starc in the powerplay and could eventually just make 159, a target KKR chased down inside 14 overs. Venkatesh, who made an unbeaten 51 off 28 balls in the chase, credited the bowlers for setting up the victory.
"It's always special. For players like us, it's the opportunity to play the IPL final, it's a dreamy moment for us."
Venkatesh Iyer
"Touch wood, all the bowlers have picked up wickets," he said. "They want to go out there and pick up wickets. We want to contribute in the field. You saw Rinku [Singh] fielding in the hotspots, taking those amazing catches [to send back Heinrich Klaasen]...
"The credit has to go to our bowlers. It was a really, really nice wicket to bat on. To get them all out for 160-odd [159] is something that I never imagined, so credit to the bowlers for giving us the confidence to just go out there and do the formalities."
The result meant KKR are in their fourth IPL final, and Venkatesh described the feeling as "dreamy". "It's always special. For players like us, it's the opportunity to play the IPL final, it's a dreamy moment for us. That too, coming here first in front of such an amazing crowd [in Ahmedabad] and now going to the Chepauk stadium...
"We now have a realistic chance of lifting that trophy and I'm really, really looking forward to it."

Shreyas: 'KKR bowlers have been mesmerising'

KKR captain Shreyas Iyer highlighted his side's bowling performance too, praising the bowlers for continuing to take wickets in the middle overs when SRH were threatening to recover from the early blows they suffered.
From 39 for 4, Rahul Tripathi and Heinrich Klaasen put on a 62-run stand and both batters were looking dangerous, but KKR prised out three wickets for the next 20 runs.
"Brilliant, I think, the way each and every bowler, they stood up on the occasion. When we were going for runs, at one point of time it was almost nine an over, and the way we came in and took wickets, I think those wickets were imperative at that point of time," Shreyas said. "The attitude and approach of every bowler was to come and see to it that they get the wicket and that's what they did.
"When you have variety in the bowling lineup, and the way they have been bowling throughout, it is just mesmerising. And to be honest, they have been true in terms of their work ethics.
"No one is taking their position lightly and the way they have been capitalising on the opportunities provided by the support staff and the management, I think it's simply amazing."
Shreyas Iyer
"No one is taking their position lightly and the way they have been capitalising on the opportunities provided by the support staff and the management, I think it's simply amazing. Hopefully we keep continuing with the momentum in the final."
Shreyas was also happy with the batting effort. KKR were without Phil Salt, who'd made himself an indispensable member of the XI this season but had to leave on England duty. Rahmanullah Gurbaz came in in his place for his first game of the season and went on to make a 14-ball 23 to give KKR early momentum in their chase.
"The way Gurbaz came in, it was his first game. He gave an impactful start for us. Sunny [Narine] as usual taking the momentum from thereon, I think it's pretty important in the powerplay," Shreyas said. "And from there on, the middle-order batters, we have to just come in and see to it that we carry forward the same run rate."
After Gurbaz and Sunil Narine did their bit in the powerplay, Shreyas and Venkatesh put on an unbroken 97-run stand to fire KKR into the final.
"Right now, it's important that we go back and enjoy the moment. We have won an important game," Shreyas said. "Come the match day, the final, we'll be in our zone and see to it that we deliver our best."