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The 'Starc reality' of high-stakes final

Source: PTI
May 26, 2024 23:55 IST
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IMAGE: Mitchell Starc with Shah Rukh Khan after their win over SRH in the IPL final. Photograph: BCCI

A man of big games! He may have faced a lot of backlash after a torrid start to the season, but KKR’s ‘big-bucks’ man, proved exactly why he’s worth every penny as he put up a match-winning performance to power Kolkata Knight Riders to their third Indian Premier League title.

Returning to IPL fold after eight years, the left-arm pacer had only seven wickets in his first nine games before the Wankhede match against Mumbai Indians gave a glimpse of the trailer before he unleashed a full film in two parts.


Two matches in the play-offs -- a virtual semi-final and then the final -- and Starc was ready to be KKR's last action hero.

Brendon McCullum learnt it the hard way during an afternoon at a packed MCG in the 2015 World Cup final. Shubman Gill and KL Rahul were left stone-faced at the Narendra Modi Stadium during the 2023 ODI summit clash.

Starc's biggest fans have often wondered what happens to him on an average cricketing day when he wouldn't know what's happening with him. And then comes those big days when there is pressure, and suddenly, the batters don't know what exactly hit them.

It could be a vicious in-dipping yorker, a late away swing or just a pushed-up delivery with scrambled seam, Starc's bouquet has it all.

The IPL's breakout star Abhishek Sharma learnt what he can expect at the international level -- the stuff of pure magic and that look of awe.

In big tournaments like the World Cup or IPL, you don't need to get 30 wickets but deliver on two or three important days. KKR decided that the market price of Starc is Rs 24.75 crore and the man from New South Wales showed that when it comes to big occasions, he is priceless.

Over the years, Starc has avoided the leagues across the world and especially the IPL as a Test cricket devotee. For him there is no greater sight than seeing the red kookaburra tail into a batter and that bewildered look on their face.

"There's nothing I love more in cricket than to sit back with my teammates at the end of a Test win and reflect on the success we've had that week. To be able to pull on the baggy green with a lot of my close mates, guys I've grown up in the game with," he had told British newspaper Guardian before the start of Ashes last year.

Recently, KKR mentor Gautam Gambhir in a podcast with Ravichandran Ashwin said that he is a traditionalist in terms of how he looks at victories and defeats.

If one revisits that Starc interview, the old world charm seeps out of every pore of his existence.

"I mean, franchise cricket is great but you can be bought or sold or traded in 12 months, whereas this is an opportunity that I've been fortunate enough to have over 10 years now," he had told the British paper.

It could seem like a paradox that Starc had said back then that the traditionalist in him doesn't want football-styled T20 leagues to usurp the space created for Test cricket.

"The traditionalist in me still hopes there is a generation of boys and girls who want to represent their country in Test cricket. But the easy money is in franchise cricket, it's the fast track to notoriety."

Possibly when the last paddle went up for Rs 24.75 crore, even Starc didn't know what to expect.

The trolls perhaps knew that he could be a potential meme material. He did give them a chance, but they should have always known that when the man in question is Mitchell Starc, the movie’s far from over.

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