20 May 2024, 15:18

High-priced Cummins, Starc face off as IPL enters playoffs

AHMEDABAD, India, May 20, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - The two highest-priced players in 
the IPL -- Australia teammates Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc -- will go 
head-to-head Tuesday for a place in the final as the cash-rich Twenty20 
league enters the playoffs.

Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper Cummins cost $2.5 million at auction, a record 
which stood briefly until Kolkata Knight Riders then paid $2.98 million for 
fast bowler Starc.

Former champions Hyderabad finished second after a four-wicket win over 
Punjab Kings on Sunday with Kolkata topping the table -- setting up the clash 
at the world's biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad where the winners will 
reach Sunday's final.

The losers will get a second chance on Friday against either the third-placed 
Rajasthan Royals or Royal Challengers Bengaluru, who finished fourth. They 
play in an eliminator on Wednesday.

The final will be followed just six days later by the T20 World Cup in the 
West Indies and the United States. Cummins last year led Australia to the 50-
over World Cup when they beat India in the final, also at Ahmedabad.

"We've had a lot of fun and played some really great cricket," Cummins said 
of his side that twice broke the IPL scoring record this season, with innings 
of 277 and 287.
"It's satisfying and exciting" to be in the play-offs, he said. "A few of 
these guys haven't played in (IPL) finals before -- I haven't played in 
finals before."

- Into the groove -

Kolkata have been the team to beat with 20 points from 14 matches and were 
the first of the 10 IPL teams to clinch a playoff place. 

They hit 272-7 against Delhi Capitals this season, the third highest innings 
in IPL history behind Hyderabad's two huge totals.

Starc had a quiet start, but began to justify his price tag with match-
winning figures of 3-38 against Lucknow Super Giants last month. 

He then took 4-33 against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium earlier this 
month, getting into the groove ahead of the World Cup.

He has taken 12 wickets in 12 matches but has been expensive, with an economy 
rate of more than 11 per over on the batting-friendly pitches that have 
dominated the 2024 season.

Cummins has 15 wickets in 13 games but it is his captaincy that has stood out 
with his rotation of bowlers key in Hyderabad winning eight out of 14 

His lower-order batting -- Cummins scored an IPL fifty in 14 balls in 2022 
for Kolkata -- has also come in handy with a highest of 35 not out.

Cummins has fellow Australian Travis Head for company in Hyderabad. 

The attacking opener has scored 533 runs, with a century and four fifties, to 
stand third in the batting chart led by Bengaluru's Virat Kohli on 708.

Kohli and Bengaluru reached the playoffs after beating Chennai Super Kings in 
a dramatic final league match at the weekend to keep their hopes alive of a 
first IPL title.


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