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Starc dishes up IPL heroics, cheered on by Healy

Alyssa Healy's nervous glances in the Mumbai stands have turned into smiles as she watched husband Mitchell Starc thunder down a match-winning over, featuring three wickets in four balls, in the Indian Premier League.

The Australian captain was a guest in the Wankhede Stadium on Friday, proudly donning the Kolkata Knight Riders' kit, and perhaps Starc was inspired to deliver his best performance yet in the franchise's purple and gold.

The 34-year-old paceman has not had the easiest of times in this year's league, perhaps weighed down by the sky-high expectations that inevitably go with being a record $4.43 million signing.

So when he stepped up to bowl the penultimate over on Friday, with Mumbai still needing 32 to win with three wickets standing and the ever-dangerous striker Tim David at the crease, it was little wonder the bespectacled Healy looked a mite anxious for him in the VIP seats.

First ball, big-hitting Aussie David picked up his stray leg-side delivery and deposited it into the crowd, leaving Healy emitting an anxious 'oooo'.

But she need not have worried. The next ball, a full toss, was hit by a frustrated David (24 off 20) straight down long off's throat while the following ball, another full toss, was too sharp for new batter Piyush Chawla, who could only pat it straight into the clutches of extra cover.

Then after Starc's hat-trick ball, a sharp yorker, was just about dug out by Jasprit Bumrah, who scampered a single, the Australian left-armer delivered another swift full one that flattened Gerald Coetzee's middle stump to seal the deal.

Starc roared his emotion like never before in this difficult season for him, as Healy, surrounded by leaping KKR fans, just offered an understated, if relieved, smile.

His figures of 4-33 off his 3.5 overs, having earlier bowled a brilliant 17th over which went for just three runs, had spearheaded KKR's 24-run victory with seven balls to spare.

It may even have represented a turning point in Starc's fortunes, with the Knight Riders now looking well set for a playoff spot too as they lie second of the 10 teams, while Mumbai's hopes, in ninth place, are now over.

It felt like a particularly big win for the visitors as they had been trying in vain for a dozen years to beat Mumbai on their own patch.

Earlier, KKR had made 169, thanks largely to Venkatesh Iyer's 70 off 52 balls which ensured he shaded Starc for the player of the match award.

Manish Pandey was subbed in as impact player and combined with Venkatesh to put on 83 off 62 balls for the sixth wicket, which saved the day for the visitors.

Mumbai's chase was soon put on the back foot when Ishan Kishan was bowled by Starc for 13, before KKR's spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine both ended with the same figures, 2-22, as they strangled the home side.

The world No.1 T20 batter Suryakumar Yadav kept the fight going with two sixes and six fours in his 56 off 35 balls, but along with David's effort, it proved too little too late.