IPL 2024: Kolkata Knight Riders storm to third title win

In a season of start-to-finish domination, KKR's bowling unit was inch perfect on a helpful pitch leaving Sunrisers in a shambles while bowling them out for a paltry 113 in 18.3 overs.
Last Updated : 26 May 2024, 18:14 IST
Last Updated : 26 May 2024, 18:14 IST

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Chennai: There’s never really a perfect time for the perfect dismissal for it typically becomes a moment unto itself, an entity which transcends the circumstances it was delivered in.

However, when that dismissal happens to bellwether the happenings of the foreseeable future, it falls in the category of something mythical.

On the wings of this wizardry, Kolkata Knight Riders posted an eight-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League final to claim their third crown.

But, we need to get back to those micro-seconds which followed the ball curling out of Mitchell Starc’s slender fingers after Kolkata were asked to bowl.

In-form Sunrisers opener Abhishek Sharma was shaping up to defend the line of the ball. Technically, the left-hander did nothing wrong. But, the ball was designed to pitch on an angled seam and shape away. It did, and how, at 139.1 kmph. Abhishek had no chance.

Even as the blinking stumps lay strewn on the ground, and Starc betrayed the magic of the delivery with a simple celebration (perhaps a legacy of such crackers can do this to a bowler), you knew Kolkata had struck a first blow. It was as telling the optics suggested.

What the Sunrisers didn’t know then was they would endure many more such hits as they grappled to wrap their minds around the behemoth that Kolkata’s bowling unit is. En route this soul-sapping, target-setting exercise, the Sunrisers were restricted to an embarrassing 113 all out in 18.3 overs.

In pursuit of the lowest IPL final total to date, Kolkata didn’t want to hang about and let the champagne go warm so Venkatesh Iyer (52 n.o.) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (39) swung about and got to 114 for 2 in 10.3 overs as the dew set in.

Sure, pitches in Chennai have drawn a fair bit of flak for being not-so-conducive for batters, but this affiliation to pace wasn’t witnessed to date, not in the six prior games at this venue.

Those in charge of curating pitch No.4 for the final were sure that it would be a high-scoring affair and spin would take precedence as it typically does at Chepauk. They did, however, mention that the red soil surface for the evening will almost entirely depend on the weather.

The venue had received a fair bit of rain on Saturday evening, and it was gloomy for the most part of Sunday. But as game time neared, the clouds cleared and the evening turned unusually pleasant.

Though Sunrisers’ skipper Pat Cummins wasn’t sure of the characteristics of the pitch, he hinged on the learnings from his side’s victory over the Rajasthan Royals a couple of evenings ago and decided to bat first.

Five balls into the first innings, when he saw the ball swing the way Starc had done so, he must have sensed something wasn’t quite right.

And then he proceeds to witness four of Kolkata’s pacers - Starc (2/14), Vaibhav Arora (1/24), Harshit Rana (2/24) and Andre Russell (3/19) - combine for eight wickets at the cost of 81 runs. It didn’t help either that Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy were being their tidy selves.

No, this was not a case of Sunrisers’ batting failing when it mattered most. This was the brilliance of Kolkata in its entirety. They have been one of the best bowling units all tournament long and when they came against a team which has been a batting juggernaut, they turned the knob all the way up.

As these events unfolded, Sunrisers’ dreams of their first title since the maiden one in 2016 turned into a naked-in-front-of-a-crowd nightmare.

Kolkata, meanwhile, lifted the cup, surely reminiscing about the night they had won their first at this very venue over a decade ago.

Published 26 May 2024, 18:14 IST

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