IPL 2024, Final – KKR vs SRH – How KKR transformed into the superb class of 2024

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Sunrisers Hyderabad. You couldn’t wish for a more fitting end to IPL 2024. It’s been a season of redrawn boundaries, and these two teams have done most of the redrawing. Eight of the ten highest totals in IPL history have come in 2024, and these two teams have been responsible for five of those eight totals.

But as the season progressed, the difference between the two teams became more and more apparent. SRH have batted with lightning intent although they have reason to temper their approach: they arguably have the most dangerous top order in the competition, but on days when they lose early wickets, personnel issues and depth can harm them.

KKR did not have these problems. Their team is designed to allow their hitters to throw aside any trace of caution. As they consolidated their place at the top of the table, moving further and further away from the chasing pack, it became increasingly clear that they had built a team this close to bombproof than any other can be in inconstancy. world of T20.

No matter what happens on Sunday at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, there is no denying that KKR has assembled one of the strongest teams in IPL history, not just from a personnel standpoint, but also from a with a view to establishing a model from which franchises can learn. .

None of this happened overnight, as it is the culmination of a long-term project.

It’s still the same thing, but better
KKR finished seventh in the table in IPL 2022 and 2023. In both seasons, they gave the feeling of a team trying to play idealistically without having the resources to achieve it consistently. They were, to put it simply, an inferior version of what the SSR was in 2024.

Throughout this auction cycle – and even the previous one, when Eoin Morgan and Dinesh Karthik led them – KKR has displayed distinctly high intent. They have the highest offensive shooting percentage (45.08)* of any team this season, and they’ve only picked up where they left off in 2022 and 2023. Their offensive shooting percentage over these two seasons (41.50) was also the best of the year. the league. Delhi Capitals and SRH have batted like KKR this season, but it is a relatively new way of playing for both teams. This is not the case for KKR.

What has changed for KKR between 2022-23 and 2024 is the feeling of structure and stability that their formations exude.

You only need one stat to sum up the stability that KKR has enjoyed throughout IPL 2024. They used seven different openers in IPL 2022, and seven again in 2023. This season, they opened with Sunil Narine and Phil Salt in each of their first 12 games. , and brought Rahmanullah Gurbaz when Salt went on duty to England.

Of course, much of this was by chance. When he joined the coaching staff and put Narine back at the top of the order, Gautam Gambhir could not have imagined that the move would bring a 482-run season with three fifties and a maiden T20 hundred. KKR didn’t sign Salt in the IPL auction – it seems unbelievable now, but he remained unsold – but as a replacement for Jason Roy; their team management could not have predicted that Salt would light up the IPL with 435 runs at a strike rate of 182.00.

KKR was also fortunate that almost all of its middle-order batters returned to form at some point during the season. But the way their squad is structured has allowed them to stick to one set of players and absorb the setbacks.

This is largely due to the two world-class West Indian all-rounders in their team, Narine and Andre Russell. What other team can bring in a four-man banker who also happens to be one of the most destructive openers in the tournament, as well as one of the most dangerous and experienced finishers in the league, capable of bowling overs high impact in the middle and at death. phases when necessary?

Because KKR has Narine and Russell, and with the luxury of the impact player, they can go match after match with eight batters and six bowlers. And if they slip to 57 for 5, as they did against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede, they can recall a ninth batter from the bench without hampering their bowling.

When you play in a lineup with that kind of depth, you have no reason to hold back.

Close the gaps

For all the intentions shown by KKR in 2022 and 2023, there were obvious weaknesses in their roster. A number of bowling teams exploited their vulnerability to short balls racing through their lineout. Take this chase of 177 against Lucknow Super Giants on a bouncing Pune deck in 2022: Mohsin Khan, Dushmantha Chameera, Avesh Khan and Jason Holder destroyed their top order in a spell of concerted short bowling and reduced them to 25 for 4 in 6.5 overs. .

This was just an extreme example of KKR’s frailties. Against short and good length balls from fast bowlers, they had the worst score rate (7.67) and worst average (17.47) of any team in the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

This season, however, KKR has done much better. They have the third-best scoring rate (9.76) of any team against this type of bowling and the fifth-best average (29.00).

This is largely due to KKR’s pre-season acquisitions. Salt batted at 189.70 and averaged an incredible 129.00 against short, good length balls from fast bowlers, and Ramandeep Singh adopted this mode of bowling with great success for a final hitter: his rate strike rating of 240.00 is the third best in the league for anyone who has scored at least 30 runs at these lengths from fast bowlers this season. He got out twice in 15 balls, but that’s normal in death contests.

KKR’s long-term starters have also been excellent against short bowling this season. Narine averages 50.00 against shorter lengths of the quicks while hitting at 172.41, while Shreyas Iyer (52.00 and 133.33), Venkatesh Iyer (40.00 and 163.26) and Russell (29.50 and 203.44) also all did more than reasonably.

This has of course helped KKR, as they have played the bulk of their matches on pitches with real bounce, but if this is how T20 goes, they are better equipped than most teams to take advantage.


KKR have used just three No.3s this season, usually either Venkatesh (six innings) or Angkrish Raghuvanshi (seven). Shreyas has been their number 4 most often (10 out of 14 innings), but they have been much less rigid about who bats at number 5 (Venkatesh, Shreyas and Rinku Singh have all played that position at least three times). times, No. 6 (usually Rinku or Russell) and No. 7 (Ramandeep seven times, and Rinku and Venkatesh a total of five times).

You may have spotted the pattern: KKR tried to have left-right pairs in the crease as much as possible. Among all the right-handed and left-handed hitters they have, they have also put together a good mix of pace hitters and spin hitters. Ramandeep, Russell, Salt, Narine, Venkatesh, Raghuvanshi and Rinku have all scored over 95 runs against pace this season with over 150 strike rates, while Narine and Shreyas have done the same against spin, with Russell, Salt and Ramandeep also. at more than 140 without reaching the analysis threshold.

So in most cases KKR was able to send the right batter for the situation and match at hand.

Get the right bowling
This section deserves a standalone analysis because KKR, for all they have done with the bat, have arguably also been the best bowling team in this IPL. They have the best collective average (22.94) of any team, and the third best economy rate (9.39), which is particularly notable because unlike the two teams who did better than them, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings, KKR have played most of their home matches at one of the most batting-friendly venues this season.

Remarkably, six of their bowlers have taken at least 10 wickets this season, and it has been a triumph in identifying players with attributes suited to specific roles and sticking to them. The same six bowlers have played the majority of KKR’s games and they all have well-defined roles. Mitchell Starc and Vaibhav Arora bowl the new ball; Harshit Rana and Russell hit the deck and bowl pace variations throughout the middle and final stages, with Starc joining them at the death; and Narine and Varun Chakravarthy control the middlemen.

Most of them have experienced fluctuations in form, with Starc and Varun in particular starting the season slowly. But KKR didn’t shift or shift even when the bowlers had bad days, unless they brought in Anukul Roy or Suyash Sharma when they felt the need for an extra spin option.

This created a situation where the bowlers grew into their roles and picked up pace. When Starc bowled a decisive spell in Qualifier 1 against SRH, a chorus of voices spoke of his ability to play in big matches, comparing this performance to his performances in the Round of 16 of the ODI World Cup. last year. Additionally, he had made a slow start to the tournament before playing influential spells for Australia in the semi-final and final. Significant match ability is one of those fuzzy, hard-to-define quasi-spiritual concepts that may or may not exist in any meaningful way. It is easier to say, however, that after a series of matches, elite athletes tend to gain both rhythm and a better understanding of the conditions, and begin to land decisive blows.

This is true not only for Starc but also for the rest of the KKR line-up. During this three-year cycle, KKR established a clear philosophy and tried to find a combination of players that could make it work. It took a while to come together, but it has now, to exciting effect.

*All statistics mentioned in this article are correct as of May 25, 2024 and do not include figures from the final.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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