IPL final: KKR vs SRH -- the ultimate clash of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins

Five key sub-plots which spice up the summit clash in Chennai tomorrow

Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc are the two most expensive players in the IPL
Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc are the two most expensive players in the IPL

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The crunch moment is finally here. After two months of fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the Lok Sabha elections for the eyeballs, the IPL 2024 final will finally see Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad lock horns in Chennai in what has arguably become the biggest T20 game in the planet – with due apologies to the World T20.

Despite the uncertainties of this format where a franchise’s given form in an evening often makes or breaks reputations, one has to admit that two of the best sides on view have made it to the summit clash.  

While KKR seemed to have turned a corner under mentor Gautam Gambhir this season and developed into the most well-rounded team in the tournament, SRH thrived on a refreshing gung ho style of batting – though often blowing a little hot and cold.

It will be their second clash in a week after the Knights had blown Sunrisers off their feet by eight wickets in the first Qualifier in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, but tomorrow will be another day. While Shreyas Iyer’s team still has the edge on paper, the final brings about several key sub-plots – from the cricketing types to the culinary ones. Here is a look at five of them:

The battle of biryani  

No sooner Sunrisers confirmed their spot as the second finalist on Friday, the social media space was quick to brand the final between the two schools of biryani which rules the roost in the two respective home cities: Kolkata and Hyderabad.

While the former is noted for it’s preference for the Awadhi style of biryani, made unique with the presence of a chunky piece of potato and boiled egg, the dum biryani on the spicy side is the flavour of the City of Nizam.

 No prizes for guessing that the makers of Arsalan, Shiraz in Kolkata or Paradise in Hyderabad may commission the extra plates, but the question is: whose flavour will prevail?

Starc or Cummins? 

Now on the cricketing front, no prizes for guessing that the match will be billed as the ultimate clash of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins – two of the most expensive buys in the history of the IPL.

The wisdom of spending Rs 24.75 crores for the much decorated Starc, the highest ever price tag, by the KKR management and an equally prohibitive Rs 20.50 crores for Cummins by Sunrisers in the mini auction in Dubai last December were heavily trolled and their cricketing wisdom questioned.

While it’s anybody’s guess as to whether such kind of spending is still justified, but Starc has certainly shaken off the rustiness in his first IPL after eight years and struck three telling blows in setting the tempo of the first Qualifier in their favour. Cummins, on the other hand, rallied an under-achieving group together and seemed to be still continuing his luck as the Australian skipper in franchise cricket.

Australian skippers: a lucky charm?

The Sunrisers Hyderabad, or Deccan Chargers in it’s earlier avatar, seem to be riding on a slice of luck whenever they have had an Australian skipper at the helm. The last time they won the title in 2016, Sunrisers were led by the inspirational David Warner – who won the Orange Cap that season and was a bundle of energy on the field.

Those among the oldtimers among the Hyderabad franchise’s fans, meanwhile, may recall the contribution of the peerless Adam Gilchrist as well. It was the second edition of IPL in 2009 when Deccan Chargers, as the franchise was then known as, won the title under Gilchrist’s leadership when the league took place in South Africa.

No player from World Cup-bound India squad

There is, however, a slightly disconcerting note if one is an Indian cricket fan hoping that Rohit Sharma & Co may end the ICC title jinx in World T20 next month.

There is not a single member of the 15-man Indian squad bound for the World Cup figuring in either of the IPL finalists’ line-ups – a piece of statistic which does not augur well in terms of their form.

The only exception is Rinku Singh of KKR, though he will be only a travelling reserve of the World Cup-bound squad. The likes of a prolific Virat Kohli, Mohammed Siraj, Sanju Samson, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Yuzvendra Chahal or even reserve Avesh Khan have all bid adieu to the competition in the play-off stages during the week.

Gambhir chasing unique landmark

A final word about Gambhir. Ever since the former Indian opener has taken upon the mentor’s role in IPL with Lucknow Super Giants in the 2022 season, his teams have made a hat-trick of play-offs and now two finals.

What’s even more significant is that after captaining KKR to two titles in 2012 and 2014, Gambhir is in line to be the first person to win IPL crowns both as a captain and mentor.  A feat which has been beyond the reach of the ‘Fab Four’ of Indian cricket – even though the likes of a Mahendra Singh Dhoni can be the possible incumbent for the future.


Catch the match:

IPL final: KKR vs SRH

Venue: M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai

Start: 7.30 pm

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