WRAP: Kolkata Knight Riders worthy Champions

cricket27 May 2024 11:31| ยฉ MWP
By:Neil Manthorp

The best two teams reached the final of IPL 2024 and the best team won the title, emphatically. Which is exactly what should be hoped for, if not expected, over the protracted and gruelling course of ten weeks.

The Kolkata Knight Riders lost just three of their 14 league matches and finished three points clear at the top of the log. They emphatically beat second placed Sunrisers Hyderabad by 36-runs in the Qualifier Match to advance straight to the final and then humiliated the same opponents once again in the final, by eight-wickets with 9.3 overs to spare. Truth be told, it was embarrassing.

But not for KKR, of course, whose Bollywood mega-star owner, Shah Rukh Khan, is the epitome of what team owners should be, but rarely are. Supportive, caring, generous but very definitely โ€˜hands offโ€™ when it comes to playing affairs and what happens on the field.

They say nobody remembers the loser but, in this instance, Sunrisers will be remembered for their astonishing batting displays during the course of the league, setting new benchmarks for what could be achieved during the Power Play and for twice breaking the IPL scoring record.

Losers are also remembered if they lose really badly and include a bit of internal squabbling with some public discord. This was achieved by the five-time champions, Mumbai Indians, who won just four of their 14 matches and finished stone last. Parachuting Hardik Pandya into the captaincy ahead of Indian captain and supportersโ€™ favourite, Rohit Sharma, was one of the great โ€˜own-goalsโ€™ in the tournamentโ€™s history.


Virat Kohli (741) scored over a hundred more runs than second placed Ruturaj Gaikwad (583) but the player of the tournament was surely Sunil Narine who scored 488 runs at the remarkable strike rate of 180 and also claimed 17 wickets with the lowest economy rate in the tournament of just 6.69 runs per over.


Hard to look past Kohli although young Australian, Jake Fraser-McGurkโ€™s strike rate of 234.04 raised more eyebrows.


Harshal Patel (24) was the leading wicket taker but Punjab Kings were, as usual, hopeless. The most consistently brilliant was Jasprit Bumrah whose 20 wickets and miserly economy rate gave the Mumbai Indians their solitary reason to cheer.


Kolkata Knight Riders. A season to remember for a long time.


Heinrich Klaasen (479 runs at a strike rate of 171.) Faf du Plessis was the second highest run-scorer with 438 @ 161.6 and Tristan Stubbs had an excellent tournament with 378 runs @ 190.9. Gerald Coetzee took 13 wickets at 10.17 runs per over, Kagiso Rabada 11 at 8.85 RPO but Anrich Nortje endured a torrid time with just seven wickets in six matches at an eye-watering 13.36 RPO.


Royal Challengers Bengaluru had to beat Chennai Super Kings in their final group match to complete the greatest comeback in the tournamentโ€™s history and reach the Play Offs after losing six of their first seven matches. They did so by 27-runs.


Mitchell Starcโ€™s first eight overs in his first IPL for nine years cost 100 runs without a single reward. But in the final he was man-of-the-match with 3-0-14-2. Itโ€™s not how you start, but how you finish that matters: "Not every day 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.


The โ€˜Impact Playerโ€™. It was widely unpopular among the players and coaches and badly skewed the tournament balance in favour of the batsmen. But will the administrators have the courage to abandon it next year?