ANI Photo | Three words defining KKR’s IPL 2024 season: Nostalgia, records and domination

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) captured their third Indian Premier League (IPL) title by defeating Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in a low-scoring and one-sided final, concluding a season defined by three words, nostalgia, domination and records.
The return of former skipper Gautam Gambhir, the winner of 2012 and 2014 titles with the franchise as a captain, made his return to Eden Gardens as the team’s mentor, in a move that brought back all the nostalgia and golden memories associated with KKR’s golden days.
His move to promote bowling all-rounder Sunil Narine to the top of the order paid rich dividends. Narine slogged and battered bowlers into submission with his massive sixes, reminiscent of the good old days when he was sent up the order as a pinch-hitter to up the run-rate. Batter Manish Pandey, the star of KKR’s 2014 final with a knock of 94 while chasing 200 runs against Punjab Kings, took to the field during the group stage match against Mumbai Indians.
Another KKR star Andre Russell, delivered yet another all-time great campaign, following some years of inconsistency. Scoring 222 runs in nine innings at an average of 31 and a strike rate of 185 and taking 19 wickets, including a three-fer in the final, Russell provided the team with wickets and sixes, whenever needed. His Caribbean partner in domination, Narine, dominated the tournament at the top, scoring 488 runs in 17 games including a century and three fifties and took two wickets.
The trio of Gambhir, Narine and Russell having an absolute blast on the field form-wise and a rare sighting of Manish on the pitch sent millions of fans into nostalgia. These elements representing KKR’s glorious past and nostalgia associated with it, blended well with the newer players of the team, many of them youngsters, consisting of Phil Salt, Rinku Singh, Angkrish Raghuvanshi, Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer, Ramandeep Singh, Varun Chakravarthy and the big buy, Mitchell Starc, worth Rs 24.75 crores, to give the audience a season to remember. Numerous records were broken by KKR throughout the season, presenting the team as a perfect mix of youth and experience, nostalgia and excitement for the future.
KKR ended the group stage with a record of nine wins, three losses and two no results, topping the charts for the first time with 20 points. Its net run rate of +1.43 is also the highest by any team in the league’s history in a single season.
The batting unit delivered fours, sixes and consistency like never before, registering the best run rate in an IPL season, with 10.7 runs scored per over. This success story was largely written by the fiery opening pair of Phil Salt (435 runs in 12 matches, with four half-centuries) and Narine. After two to three years of changing and chopping various combinations, the Knights managed to get a stable and firing opening duo. A total of six 200-plus totals were posted, tied with SRH for the joint-most in a single season by a team.
Though much of the work was done by Salt and Narine while batting, skipper Shreyas Iyer (351 runs) provided the team the leadership and stability it needed and Venkatesh Iyer (370 runs) produced came in clutch during knockout matches. The finishing touches were consistently put by Rinku, Russell and Ramandeep and made sure that the team got extra 20-40 runs almost every time.
KKR smashed 238 fours in the season, the most by a team and 135 sixes, the fourth-most this season with SRH leading the charts with 178 sixes.
The youth and aggression of the likes of Harshit Rana and Vaibhav Arora (19 and 11 wickets each), the big match experience of Starc towards the back end of the competition (17 wickets), bamboozling spin of Varun and Narine (21 and 17 wickets) came together to form one of the most all-round bowling attacks in league’s history as they all chipped in useful contributions in every match, standing up whenever any of their partners was being smashed into the skies. The result was a bowling strike rate of 14.3, the best by a team in an IPL season.
Leading into the final, KKR bowlers had taken 47 wickets in their previous five completed games, the most by any team in the league’s history across a five-match stretch. During this period, their bowlers had an average of 16 combined and an economy rate of just 7.95.
KKR also bundled out SRH for just 113 runs, the lowest-ever total in an IPL final, producing possibly the most one-sided final in the tournament’s history.
All of these factors combined gave KKR a total of 13 wins and just three losses, the least defeats in an IPL season.
When future stars of the sport are given their lessons in the sport, these statistics and this IPL season by KKR could be used to bring a shift in the way the game is played. Though the question as to who was more dominant, SRH or KKR would be subjective, now that KKR has a trophy in their cabinet, they have no doubt delivered a season when nostalgia, role clarity, positive intent and big match mentality came together to create a T20 superteam. (ANI)

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