Pressure grows on Starc as $4.43m pacer blanks again

Mitchell Starc's difficult return to the Indian Premier League has continued with his third wicketless outing in four matches - and this time his Kolkata Knight Riders team lost.

KKR's first defeat of this IPL campaign was a comprehensive one, beaten by seven wickets by Chennai Super Kings in their MA Chidambaram Stadium fortress with more than two overs to spare.

After Ravindra Jadeja (3-18) squeezed KKR's batting line-up, restricting them to 9-137, Shreyas Iyer top-scoring with 34, Kolkata needed their $4.43m star recruit to bowl them back into the game.

Starc began well enough, conceding four runs as he opened the bowling, but his second over went for 15 with Rachin Ravindra (15 of eight) cracking three fours.

Ruturaj Gaekwad (67 not out off 58 balls) and Daryl Mitchell (25 off 19) then took the home side to 1-97 before Sunil Narine made the breakthrough bowling the New Zealander with a well-disguised off-break.

Daryl Mitchell
Daryl Mitchell attempts a sweep in his innings of 25 for Chennai SK against Kolkata KR in the IPL.

With the door ajar Iyer brought back Starc hoping the left-armer would blast his way through it and conjure up a comeback victory.

However, both Gaekwad and impact substitute Shivam Dube (28 off 18) hit fours as Starc went for ten. That left 29 needed from 36 balls and the match as good as done.

Starc finished with 0-29 off his three overs. He has now conceded 154 runs in 16 overs, a strike rate of nearly ten-an-over, for two wickets. Those were David Warner and Mitch Marsh, so maybe he just needs to bowl at Australians more often.

KKR's next opponents, Lucknow Super Giants on 14 April, have Marcus Stoinis and Ashton Turner in their ranks, but Stoinis bats in the middle order and Turner is yet to play. Quinton de Kock and fellow opener KL Rahul are the men Iyer wants Starc to be knocking over.

Both batters will be well aware that they do not write off a bowler of Starc's enduring class, but the pressure will be on the big Australian, the most expensive player in the competition's history, to deliver.

However, even if he does not, KKR will keep the faith. There remain nearly seven weeks of the IPL to go and Starc has a habit of turning it on when it matters.


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