The IPL auction 2024 emerged as an intense battleground where Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Gujarat Titans (GT) engaged fervently to add Mitchell Starc’s firepower to their squad. While there was no doubt that Starc, especially after the ODI World Cup success in India, would be a highly sought-after player in the auction, his acquisition by the KKR for a record-breaking sum of Rs 24.75 crore raised the eyebrows of many. Breaking it down, if KKR play a maximum 17 matches in IPL 2024, Mitchell Starc’s acquisition would amount to over Rs 6 lakh per ball bowled or Rs 1.45 crore per match. This prompts the question: Does this investment truly justify the expense?

“Things have changed. When the auction is over, all the 10 teams are going to walk out having spent 100 crores and each team decides to slice it differently,” Venky Mysore, the Kolkata Knight Riders’ CEO, said while justifying the price tag after the auctions.

“So what you have paid to somebody is a matter of perspective. Ultimately, we’re all spending the same amount of money. When you plan your team, from a retention standpoint, with the auction far away, you’ve no idea of who are the players being released from other teams, trades happening, and all that. So it’s a very dynamic environment.”

To support Venky Mysore’s argument, Kolkata Knight Riders do possess a well-balanced squad despite spending that much on Mitchell Starc.

The side has a formidable batting lineup with the likes of Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Shreyas Iyer, Jason Roy, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Manish Pandey in the squad. KKR also have a couple of top-quality all-rounders in Andre Russell and Venkatesh Iyer and spinners in Sunil Narine, Suyash Sharma, Varun Chakravarthy and Mujeeb Ur Rehman.

Before Starc’s arrival, the pace bowling options appeared rather limited. However, the acquisitions of Chetan Sakariya (Rs 50 lakh) and Gus Atkinson (Rs 1.00 crore) during the IPL auction 2024 have significantly bolstered the team’s bowling arsenal. Starc leading the bowling attack and injecting the firepower adds to KKR’s capabilities.

In fact, KKR emerged from the auction with a total of 10 players – the most in IPL 2024. KKR’s 10 buys included four overseas talents, among whom Starc stands out.

KKR made a bold move by shelling out the record sum for Starc, whose name on the roster comes at a staggering cost,

History is peppered with instances where big-ticket players like Yuvraj Singh, Chris Morris, Kevin Pietersen and Ben Stokes failed to live up to the expectations.

The burden of justifying the price tag falls squarely on Starc’s shoulders. While his track record in international cricket is commendable, adapting to the demands of IPL is a different ball game altogether. Factors like adjusting to different conditions, the competitive nature of the league and handling the weight of expectations will determine the success of his stint with KKR.

Only time will tell if Starc’s acquisition for the record price was a masterstroke or a gamble that didn’t quite pay off for Kolkata Knight Riders.

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