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Starc shines at last in IPL - by pocketing Aussie pals

It can't have been easy for Mitchell Starc trying to live up to the billing of being Indian Premier League's 4.43 million dollar man - but the price tag won't weigh as heavy after he won key duels with his Australian pals in Kolkata's latest huge win.

Starc, the most expensive overseas recruit the IPL has ever embraced, had entered his third match for the Knight Riders having been smashed for 100 runs from eight overs in his previous two outings, going at 12-and-a-half per over without a wicket in sight.

There had even been debate among the IPL cognoscenti that Australia's premier paceman might have to suffer the indignity of being dropped if he endured another dispiriting afternoon at Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.

Starc bags Warner
Starc celebrates with teammates after dismissing Delhi captain David Warner. (AP PHOTO)

This time, though, the 34-year-old got it right, setting unbeaten KKR on the way to their third straight win by dismissing Delhi Capitals' Mitch Marsh and David Warner in consecutive overs in the powerplay to quickly scupper any chance they could chase down Kolkata's monumental 7-272.

Starc finished with 2-25 off his three overs as KKR went on to cruise to a 106-run win and move to the top of the table.

If that was a major relief for Starc, you would never have guessed as he shrugged that, actually, he had not bowled very differently from his first two matches.

Asked what had worked this time, he smiled: "Not changing too much.

"Nothing much was said before the game, you take in a bit of luck here and there, and tonight we were clinical with both bat and ball.

"Games come thick and fast. It is T20 cricket, it can get brutal. We are 3-0, we've been clinical with the bat, so personal things aside, the team is going fantastic."

Two things felt particularly good, though.

"Nice to have them (Marsh and Warner) in the pocket," grinned Starc.

Starc, Marsh and Warner
The match's three Aussies in action, with Starc between batters Mitch Marsh and David Warner. (AP PHOTO)

Chasing the second biggest total in IPL history - bettered only by the 3-277 hammered by Sunrisers Hyderabad against Mumbai Indians last week - Marsh, quickly in at No.3, lasted just two balls after Starc's impressive fellow strike bowler Vaibhav Arora (3-27) had got rid of Prithvi Shaw.

Starc snaffled his out-of-sorts Aussie colleague as Marsh flashed powerfully but straight into the hands of cover point.

Then, after Arora had struck again next over to dismiss Abishek Porel, Starc had Warner playing on when trying to cut, the ball after the opener had deposited one into the crowd at long-on for a huge six. At 4-33, it was effectively game over.

Delhi captain Rishabh Pant, while still hobbling slightly, did smite a glorious 55 off 25 balls to give his side the merest whiff of a chance but once he and Tristan Stubbs (54 off 32) had departed, so did the hopes of the Ricky Ponting-coached side, who capitulated to 166 all out with 16 balls to spare.

Earlier, player of the match Sunil Narine was again breathtaking for Kolkata, cracking a career-best 85 off just 39 balls as opener, with seven sixes and seven fours, before Marsh (1-37 off three overs) got him caught behind with a sharp bouncer.

The runs just wouldn't stop flowing as Angkrish Raghuvanshi, another dazzling Indian prospect at just 18 years old, blitzed 54 off 27, with Andre Russell also muscling 41 off 19 amid the mayhem.