IPL 2024 – KKR vs SRH – Venkatesh Iyer: KKR were just waiting to ‘put up a show’ after long break

“The last game KKR played was on the 11th. So we were all desperate to go out there and showcase our talent,” Venkatesh told the host broadcaster after the game.

KKR’s previous on-field action came in a win at home against Mumbai Indians on May 11, after which they had two washouts against Gujarat Titans and Rajasthan Royals but still finished No. 1 on the table. Venkatesh had been worried that the break might hamper their performance in the playoffs.

“To be honest, in a tournament like this, momentum is extremely important. We’ve seen that with RCB. They’ve won games continuously and it’s the momentum that has taken them forward,” Venkatesh said. “Similarly even we wanted that momentum. Because we were playing really good cricket. So [we wanted] to be able to go out there and just wait for the rain to stop [in the last two games], and we didn’t get enough practice as well.

“But the best thing was we were table-toppers, and being table-toppers gives you a lot of confidence heading into the playoffs. Credit to the coaching staff, the entire management and the owners. [Co-owners] SRK [Shah Rukh Khan] sir and Jay [Mehta] sir also came today. They gave us a little pep talk. So the spirits were really, really high and the boys were motivated to go out there and put up a show.”

KKR were on top of proceedings right from the word go, despite losing the toss. Mitchell Starc bowled Travis Head in the first over and Abhishek Sharma was caught at cover in the next. SRH lost two more wickets to Starc in the powerplay and could eventually just make 159, a target KKR chased down inside 14 overs. Venkatesh, who made an unbeaten 51 off 28 balls in the chase, credited the bowlers for setting up the victory.

“Touch wood, all the bowlers have picked up wickets,” he said. “They want to go out there and pick up wickets. We want to contribute in the field. You saw Rinku [Singh] fielding in the hotspots, taking those amazing catches [to send back Heinrich Klaasen]…

“The credit has to go to our bowlers. It was a really, really nice wicket to bat on. To get them all out for 160-odd [159] is something that I never imagined, so credit to the bowlers for giving us the confidence to just go out there and do the formalities.”

The result meant KKR are in their fourth IPL final, and Venkatesh described the feeling as “dreamy”. “It’s always special. For players like us, it’s the opportunity to play the IPL final, it’s a dreamy moment for us. That too, coming here first in front of such an amazing crowd [in Ahmedabad] and now going to the Chepauk stadium…

“We now have a realistic chance of lifting that trophy and I’m really, really looking forward to it.”

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