Mitchell Starc responds to $4.4 million IPL furore amid brutal Travis Head moment

Starc's heroics came in grim contrast to his fellow Aussie and IPL rival.

Mitchell Starc has hit back at critics in emphatic fashion after starring in his side's eight-wicket qualifying final win over Sunrisers Hyderabad that sees the Kolkata Knight Riders book their spot in the Indian Premier League final. Starc's $4.4 million price tag as the IPL's most expensive player has been questioned after some underwhelming form earlier this season, but the Aussie cricket star stood tall when it mattered to guide his side to victory over a Hyderabad side featuring Aussie teammates Pat Cummins and Travis Head.

Only last month, Starc was facing calls to be axed by KKR fans after a series of poor performances with the ball. But in the biggest game of the season to date for his side, the Aussie quick justified his eye-watering price tag with a clinical bowling display after taking figures of 3-34, including the big wicket of his compatriot Head for a duck.

Pictured here, Mitchell Starc removes Travis Head for a duck in the IPL finals.
Mitchell Starc removed Travis Head for a duck in a massive IPL finals statement for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Pic: IPL/Getty

Head has been sensational for Hyderabad this year but was dismissed for a second-ball duck as Starc helped tear the heart out of the Sunrisers top order, who were reeling at 4-39 at one stage. Cummins made a vital unbeaten 30 to help his side scramble to 159 all out, but KKR proved that total was never going to seriously bother them.

Cummins hit Starc's last two balls for six and four but could not match his impact with the ball, taking 1-38 off his three overs as KKR won with 38 balls and eight wickets to spare. Shreyas Iyer (58no) and Venkatesh Iyer (51no) did the bulk of the damage with the bat for KKR, cracking 97 runs between them in 44 balls to seal a comfortable win with 38 balls to spare, booking their spot in Sunday's final.


The Sunrisers will still have a second chance to set up a showdown against KKR in the final, as they now play the winner of the IPL eliminator between third-placed Rajasthan Royals and fourth-placed Royal Challengers Bengaluru. While Head has been outstanding for Hyderabad this season - cracking 533 runs at 44.42 - it was the second duck in succession for the big-hitting Aussie after a beauty of a ball from Starc.

Head tried to smash an outswinging delivery from Starc over the long-on boundary but the pace and accuracy of the delivery beat him all ends up. The ball pitched at a good length and did enough off the seam to beat Head's bat before crashing into middle stump to leave commentators and fans in awe.

Starc began the competition like a man out of his time after being belted around the grounds by a new breed of T20 batters. But the 34-year-old proved once again that he's a man for the big occasion by claiming the scalps of Nitish Kumar Reddy (nine) and Shahbaz Ahmed, also for a duck.

Starc could have and should have had four, but KKR decided not to review a yorker that struck Rahul Tripathi in front, thinking the ball had hit bat before foot. Tripathi, then on 14, went on to make 55, his partnership with Heinrich Klassen (32) giving Sunrisers faint hope, which was ultimately extinguished.

"It was nice to get the team off to the start we needed," Starc said after admitting he'd tried to bowl slightly shorter, but still pitched up enough to extract swing. "Powerplay wickets are very important. It was nice to see the back of Trav (Head) early. He's been phenomenal this tournament. To get him cheaply was big."

Seen here, Mitchell Starc celebrates with KKR teammates during the IPL finals victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Mitchell Starc celebrates with KKR teammates during the IPL finals victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad. Pic: Getty

Head's second straight duck capped off a bad night for the South Australian, who dropped a regulation catch at point to gift KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer a reprieve on 14. The Kolkata captain hit the next ball for six and went on to make an unbeaten 24-ball 58. Head's latest failure with the bat came at the same ground where he made 137 to guide Australia to ODI World Cup glory in November.

Cummins' men will now regroup ahead of a match against the winner of Thursday's (AEST) eliminator between Rajasthan Royals and a Royal Challengers Bengaluru side likely to feature fellow Aussies Glenn Maxwell and Cam Green. "Not our day but we have another crack at it," Cummins said. "We'll try to put this one behind us pretty quickly. You get these days in T20 when it doesn't work out. We were off the pace, a few guys didn't get a start and we couldn't get it done with the ball."

with AAP