Starc a bit-part player as Kolkata reach IPL playoffs

Mitchell Starc has endured another fairly underwhelming day in the Indian Premier League but his Kolkata side didn't really need their $4.43 million Knight Rider as they comfortably became the first team to seal a playoff place in this season's edition.

The Australian mega-signing only bowled one over in front of Kolkata's home fans in the rain-shortened contest at Eden Gardens on Saturday as Mumbai Indians chased KKR's 16-over total of 7-157.

Despite the ball swinging around, Starc's over - the second of the innings - was clouted for 11 including a couple of boundaries, which has been very much par for the course for the 34-year-old during the competition.

Indeed, stats show that, of all the 33 bowlers who have taken 10 wickets or more this season, Starc is the most expensive, going at an average of 11.36 runs per over.

Instead, KKR quickly turned to the spin of Varun Chakravarthy (2-17 off four overs) and Sunil Narine (1-21 off three) to strangle the Mumbai chase.

Then with pace needed to close out the match, captain Shreyas Iyer preferred to entust the ball to Harshit Rana (2-34 off three) rather than Starc.

Still, Starc did contribute in the field, his one-bounce throw to wicketkeeper Phil Salt from the long off boundary effecting the run-out of Nehal Wadhera when things were getting desperate for Mumbai.

Andre Russell (also 2-34) dismissed Tim David, Mumbai's last hope, for a three-ball duck as the five-times champions, again under-performing, capitulated to 8-139, giving KKR the 18-run win which ensures Starc is the first Australian to book his place in this year's knockout stage.

Sunrisers Hyderbad's Pat Cummins and Travis Head, Delhi Capitals' Jake Fraser-McGurk and David Warner, and Lucknow Super Giants' Marcus Stoinis are still in the thick of the hunt to join him in the four-team shoot-out.

Better still for KKR, who top the league on 18 points after a fourth win on the bounce, their net run-rate is so good that they now look odds-on to finish in the top two which would mean they may need just one match to reach the final.

After a near two-hour rain delay, Kolkata, put in to bat, made a terrible start when in-form openers Phil Salt and Sunil Narine were quickly dismissed with just 10 on the board.

Jasprit Bumrah, brilliant all season, bowled Narine for a golden duck as he took 2-39 off his four overs, but Venkatesh Iyer was KKR's mainstay, smacking a two-a-ball 42, with six fours and two sixes, and sharing a 37-run partnership with Nitish Rana (33).