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'It was destined to be the best ball of the IPL'

Source: PTI
May 27, 2024 16:18 IST
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IMAGE: SRH opener Abhishek Sharma is bowled by Mitchell Starc during the IPL 2024 final on Sunday. Photograph: BCCI

Former Australia batter Matthew Hayden has termed Mitchell Starc's outstanding away-swinger to Abhishek Sharma in the IPL final as the 'ball of the IPL' while describing Sunil Narine as the best player for champions Kolkata Knight Riders.


Shreyas Iyer's rampant KKR, who were unstoppable throughout IPL 2024, crushed Sunrisers Hyderabad in Sunday's final by eight wickets to add a third trophy to their cabinet.

"The moment that ball bowled to Abhishek Sharma came out of Mitchell Starc's hands, it was game over. It was destined to be the best ball of the IPL -- an absolute peach at a time when it was so important," Hayden told Star Sports.
Former England batter Kevin Pietersen said Starc's ability to get his wrist position right towards the end of IPL and cranking up extra pace along with Narine's all-round ability was a big boost KKR.

"Mitchell Starc was averaging around 136-137 kmph during the majority of the season. But in the last two weeks he has gone above 140 kmph and that is his average. He is bowling fast,” Pietersen said.

"We never saw him swing the ball for the first seven, maybe even eight weeks of this tournament. In the last few weeks, he has got his wrist in a good place and started to swing the ball back,” he added.

IMAGE: Mitchell Starc celebrates the wicket of Abhishek Sharma. Photograph: BCCI

Pietersen was lavish in praise of Narine, saying that the West Indies all-rounder gave his critics a perfect reply.

"I was one of the most vocal critics at the start of the tournament saying I didn't like Sunil Narine at the top of the order, due to his inconsistency. He would typically hit a six and then get out, disrupting the momentum," said the former England batter.

"However, this season he has been consistent. He has thought like a batter, batted like a batter and got the runs of a batter. He has averaged more than many batters and his strike rate has been phenomenal. He has played both sides of the wicket exceptionally well."

"We don't need to say much about his bowling -- he is an out-and-out superstar. His ability to change his action and still produce such impressive numbers is quite something. He is the heart and soul of this outfit,” Pietersen said.

Former India batter Ambati Rayudu, meanwhile, credited KKR captain Iyer, coaching staff as well as the team's domestic talent for coming together.  

"Shreyas Iyer has been tremendous in terms of leading KKR, and we should give him a lot of credit. He was not in the best of forms with the bat, but still, the way he has led the team, the way he has used his resources, is commendable,” Rayudu said.

Rayudu said a huge tally of runs from an individual is not as crucial as the others contributing collectively.

"That is exactly how teams win the IPL. We have seen this over the years; it is not the orange cap that wins you the IPL, but it is the contributions from 4-5 batters with 300-400 runs each -- that is what gets you to the finals," he added.

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