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Starc's eventful day out: Knocks over Travis Head for a duck, then cops back to back sixes from Pat Cummins

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21st May, 2024
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Mitchell Starc’s nightmare return to the Indian Premier League is beginning to look as if it will deliver a dream finish for the Australian paceman.

Starc began the competition like a man out of his time, flogged around the park by a new breed of T20 batters, going for two runs a ball and looking every day of his 34 years. He is ending it in prime form, justifying his record $4.43m price tag and blitzing the batters who had blitzed him.

In the qualifying final in Ahmedabad on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST) Starc has taken 3-34, tearing the heart out of Sunrisers Hyderabad’s upper order, to set up an eight-wicket victory for Kolkata Knight Riders propelling them into Sunday’s final.

His victims included the key wicket of compatriot Travis Head, dismissed for a second-ball duck as Sunrisers were reduced to 4-39. Aided by a battling 30 not out by skipper Pat Cummins they scrambled to 159 all out, but that was soon made to look inadequate.

Cummins hit Starc’s last two balls for six and four but could not match his impact with the ball, taking 1-38 off his three overs as KKR won with 38 balls and eight wickets to spare.

Head has had an excellent tournament but now made successive ducks, this one at the ground on which he made 137 in November’s ODI World Cup final.

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Capping a bad night for the South Australian he dropped a regulation catch at point to reprieve Shreyas Iyer on 14. The KKR captain hit the next ball for six and went on to make an unbeaten 24-ball 58.

Sunrisers may get a chance for revenge. On Friday (Saturday AEST) they will meet the winner of Wednesday’s (Thursday AEST) eliminator between Rajasthan Royals and a Royal Challengers Bengaluru side likely to feature Glenn Maxwell and Cam Green.

“Not our day but we have another crack at it,” said Cummins. “We’ll try to put this one behind us pretty quickly. You get these days in T20 when it doesn’t work out. We were off the pace, a few guys didn’t get a start and we couldn’t get it done with the ball.”

Starc said he had bowled slightly shorter than before, but still pitched up enough to swing.

“It was nice to get the team off to the start we needed,” he said. “Powerplay wickets are very important. It was nice to see the back of Trav (Head) early. He’s been phenomenal this tournament. To get him cheaply was big.”

Starc could have had four, but KKR decided against a review after a yorker struck Rahul Tripathi in front, thinking the ball had hit bat before foot. Tripathi, then on 14, went on to make 55, his partnership with Heinrich Klassen (32) giving Sunrisers some hope.

That was soon extinguished. Though Cummins dismissed the dangerous Sunil Narine (21) in the seventh over KKR were already 2-67. Shreyas and Venkatesh Iyer then cracked 97 in 44 balls as they romped home.

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