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Gautam Gambhir sets his expectations straight from KKR’s INR 24.75 crore buy Mitchell Starc: ‘I said at the auction…’

Gautam Gambhir knows what to expect from Mitchell Starc as the KKR pacer gets set to play his first IPL since 2015.

The upcoming 2024 season of the IPL promises to mark a homecoming of sorts for many. An IPL of comebacks, this year will witness the return of some of the who’s who of cricket such as Rishabh Pant, Pat Cummins, Jasprit Bumrah and Shreyas Iyer. But the two most talked-about comebacks that promises to dwarf everything and everyone around them is that of Gautam Gambhir and Mitchell Starc, both of whom are back with Kolkata Knight Riders.

Will the returning Gambhir Gambhir and Mitchell Starc lead to a change in fortunes for KKR? (KKR-AFP)

Gambhir, of course, has a long-standing history with KKR. It was this very franchise that Gambhir led to two IPL titles in consecutive years – 2012 and 2014 – and even though he jumped ships to Delhi Capitals only take up mentorship with them and later Lucknow Super Giants, the fact that Gambhir is returning to the franchise he helped build a decade and more ago is nothing less than an emotional roller-coaster for the fans in Kolkata.

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Expectations will be high of both. For starters, Gambhir is expected to help KKR reclaim the lost glory, but the pressure will be more on Starc, who fetched a gobsmacking amount at the IPL 2024 auction table. Becoming only the second player in history to cross the ₹20 crore bid, Starc left his Australian teammate and captain Pat Cummins behind to break the bank and land a successful bid of ₹24.75 crore. Starc may not have played the IPL since 2015, but as we head close to the start of the season, Gambhir’s expectations from Starc is crystal clear.

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“I had already said on the auction table that he [Starc] is an X-factor and I am sure he is going to deliver. And there’s no such pressure of a price tag. I hope that what he has done in international cricket, he can do the same for KKR,” Gambhir was reported as saying by media outlets upon his arrival in Kolkata on Thursday.

For Gambhir, KKR return one that’s overflowing with emotions

Gambhir is KKR’s highest scorer with 3345 runs from 122 matches at an average of 31.26 and holds the record for the most consecutive wins by any team. KKR notched up 9 wins on the bounce in 2014 to emerge as champions and won the opener the following year against Mumbai Indians. Their dominating run was finally snapped by Royal Challengers Bangalore, but during the streak, KKR emerged as a formidable force, matching the likes of Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. Surprisingly enough, the zing has gone missing from KKR over the years. They last made the Playoffs in 2021, before finishing 7th in 2022 and 2023.

Gambhir, who recently quit his politics career for pay attention to cricket commitments, can’t wait to get started and expressed his delight at linking back with the team he took to great heights.

“KKR is not a franchise, it’s an emotion for me. I hope I live up to the expectation, and I am sure we’ll try and make Kolkata proud and that’s what we are going to do,” he added.


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