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Big match star Mitchell Starc stands tall again to prove he has still got it in T20s

Mitchell Starc turned around the criticism with plenty of plaudits from the cricket pundits and fans worldwide. From having a tough time in the initial exchanges of the tournament to delivering match-winning performances when it mattered the most, Starc has shown he has still got it in T20s.

Written By: Varun Malik @varunm0212 New Delhi Updated on: May 27, 2024 17:13 IST
Mitchell Starc stars when needed the most in IPL 2024.
Image Source : INDIA TV Mitchell Starc stars when needed the most in IPL 2024.

0/53, 0/47. Not the way one would want to resume his IPL career after being away from the field since 2015. Mitchell Starc came into this IPL with loads of expectations and the heavy hammer of Rs. 24.75 Cr hanging on his back. His outings were being closely monitored and became a subject of criticism from all spheres of the cricket field. But Starc in his 6.6 feet self kept going on, steaming in towards the 22 yards to prove he has still got it.

Starc has been away from the T20 format for a long time. He has played only two T20s in the 18 months in the lead-up to the IPL 2024. He was once dropped from an Australian T20I XI in their T20 World Cup title defence in 2022 and that too in a must-win game against Afghanistan. 

It spoke that Starc's skillset might be ageing away from the rigours of the T20 format. But he kept working on it and showed he still got it not just once but several times and twice when it mattered the most in IPL 2024.

Despite his weak returns in the opening matches, Starc kept going on and then he stood up on his big match player tag on two successive nights when KKR took the field in the playoffs. He first took the game away from Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Qualifier 1 when he ripped through the top-order getting Travis Head, Nitish Reddy and Shahbaz Ahmed. 

Then on the night of the final, his love for the first over was on full display yet again. While he had got Head in the previous face-off in Qualifier 1, this time he got his other partner on possibly the ball of the tournament.

A length ball angling in, drawing Abhishek forward and then nagging away after pitching to open the SRH batter all ends up and cleaning him up. KKR were off to a flier and the fans were ecstatic. Starc's love for the first-over was on display yet again as it was in Q1 against Head.

Speaking after helping KKR win their third IPL title, Starc said he was working on his rhythm of the format. "I've played a lot of cricket so I know how to manage myself there. I haven't played a lot of T20 cricket in the last few years so for me it was trying to find that rhythm of the T20 format and I was trying to stay ahead of batters," he said after the final.

Starc ended the tournament with 17 wickets in his name in 14 matches but went at 10.61 runs an over. The only relieving sign of this economy rate was that he played most of his matches at the venue where everyone was getting hit - Eden Gardens. 

"You look at some of the (bowling) figures... it's easy for someone like myself who's been around for a long time and been through the ups and downs to say it's a mindset thing," he added.

"Not everyday is a good day. You're never as good as people say you are and you're never as bad as people say you are. I think staying level is a good part of it. I think T20 is a great leveller. You can have some good days and two days later you can have a shocking day. I think that's one thing that's kept me in good stead throughout, is staying pretty level. I think that's probably the advice I can give, you've got to enjoy the journey for its good and bad. If you can learn from the tougher days, it's going to make you a better bowler.

"So it's certainly been a tougher tournament for bowlers, but those who have found a way or those who have been good enough have stood at the top, whether it's been wicket-taking or economy rates. Jasprit's [Bumrah] been one of the best in the world for a long time and he's certainly showed that he found a way to not go for runs and take wickets as well."  

This tournament was good for his practice ahead of the T20 World Cup and preparing for that tournament was the biggest reason he played in IPL 2024. The 0/50 and 0/47 ended with figures of 3/34 and 2/14 in the final two matches where it mattered the most and Starc showed he has still got it in T20s.


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