Captain Australia Cummins reaches another big final

The Midas touch that Pat Cummins has enjoyed in his captaincy career has helped propel him to another major international final, this time with Indian Premier League side Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Cummins, who's taken Australia to a triumph in the World Test Championship and 50-over World Cup in the last year, was thrilled to lead his success-starved team to the final of T20's juggernaut event on Friday, steering them to a comfortable 36-run semi-final win over Rajasthan Royals in Chennai.

It was another feather in the leadership cap of the 31-year-old pacer, whose remarkable success has long since silenced any of those critics who doubted his tactical acumen.

Once again also leading from the front, with his four overs going for just 1-30 as the Royals stumbled to 7-139 in pursuit of 176, Cummins coaxed another impressive tune out of his side, who've been the boldest, most attacking outfit in the whole league in the 2024 edition.

"It is a fantastic occasion, for the whole franchise, there's about 60 or 70 of us in the changing room, with the coaches and the staff and everyone who puts their heart and soul into this team," enthused Cummins after setting up a final rematch with the Mitchell Starc-powered Kolkata Knight Riders in Chennai on Sunday.

"So it's really gratifying, and hopefully we can go one more."

It will be another pacers' showdown between the two biggest overseas signings in the IPL's annals and two great mates - the $3.67 million Cummins, who briefly held the record as the most expensive capture in the IPL auction until Starc got nabbed by KKR for $4.43 million.

Travis Head
Travis Head with a glorious, Brian Lara-style clip to leg in his valuable 34. (AP PHOTO)

And there'll be a second chance for Travis Head, who got castled by a beauty from his international teammate Starc for a duck when KKR won the first playoff clash between the two sides rather comfortably in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

Head was back in business on Friday, only this time playing more of a support role after being leading man for most of the season.

His 34 off 28 balls at the top of the innings was positively snail-like compared to most of his electric starts in this campaign but an important, settling contribution nonetheless after Sunrisers had struggled to 3-57.

It was Heinrich Klaasen's 34-ball 50 that did most to propel Hyderabad to 9-175 with Avesh Khan having done much of the damage for the Royals with his 3-27 off four overs.

After Cummins had helped stall the chase early by stifling and then taking the wicket of the out-of-sorts Tom Kohler-Cadmore, taking 1-10 off two overs in his opening spell, he then unleashed Shahbaz Ahmed (3-23) and Abhishek Sharma (2-24) to spin Sunrisers into their third IPL final - but only their first for six years.

Every Hyderabad fan, though, will be trusting in 'Captain Australia' to lead them to their first title since 2016.