Mitchell Starc's poor IPL 2024 start left KKR worried? Gautam Gambhir breaks silence on costliest IPL player

Updated - 29 May 2024, 07:18 PM

Gautam Gambhir, Mitchell Starc
Gautam Gambhir, Mitchell Starc [PC: X]

Kolkata Knight Riders mentor Gautam Gambhir has lauded Mitchell Starc, saying that the the franchise never doubted the pacer's ability to perform in the recently-concluded IPL 2024.

All eyes were on the Australia pacer after KKR bought for a whopping amount of Rs 24.75 crores to make him the most expensive player in the history of the league. However, the left-arm pacer struggled to deliver with the ball in the first half of the tournament and faced severe criticism from several quarters.

KKR also faced criticism as well for their decision as experts and fans criticized them heavily for spending such a big amount on one player. However, KKR continued to back Mitchell Starc and the bowler turned things around in a spectacular fashion. The World Cup-winning pacer delivered when it mattered the most and pretty much justified his huge price tag.

He had picked up only seven wickets from the first nine matches at an average of 47.14 and an economy of 11.78. Mitchell Starc's campaign took a turn after his four-wicket haul against Mumbai Indians that helped KKR beat the Mumbai-based outfit at the Wankhede Stadium for the first time since 2012. 

The 34-year-old then starred with the ball in the qualifier one as well as the final, delivering Player of the Match performances in both games. He picked up three wickets in the first qualifier before taking two in the final as KKR thrashed Sunrisers Hyderabad in both games to win the title for the third time.

"We had absolutely no doubt that Starc will become the X-factor for us in the tournament. We always knew he was the X-Factor and he will become one at the right time. I mean, what other big matches could be there in the IPL?

"It was the Qualifier 1 and the Final. That is why I say that the big players wait for such occasions, they thrive on these occasions. Money is irrelevant. What Starc brings to the team was more important," Gambhir said in an exclusive interaction with Sportskeeda.

KKR's backing for Mitchell Starc:

Speaking further, Gautam Gambhir explained how KKR backed Mitchell Starc throughout the competition irrespective of what was happening on the field. The former India opener was not really harsh on the critics before saying that the KKR dressing room made sure to treat the bowler well even when he was struggling to do well on the field.

"It does not matter what anyone says about Starc, it does not matter what is being said on social media. You should not feel bad about what is being said as well, because the experts judge you on the basis of your performance, that is their job. According to me, what is being said in the dressing room, and how you feel in the dressing room is important," Gambhir said.

"It is the experts' job, you cannot take that in a bad way, there is no need for it, honestly. If you score 0, then they will criticize you, and if you score a 100, the same people will praise you. Some people criticize less, some criticize more, and that depends on their thought process. There was not a single day in the KKR dressing room where we made Starc feel that he did not start off the tournament well," Gambhir concluded.

Starc will be seen in action next in the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup, scheduled to be played from June 1 to 29 in the USA and the Caribbeans.