Shreyas Iyer: 'We played like invincibles throughout the season'

What changed for Starc towards the end of the season? (1:21)

Mitchell McClenaghan on why Starc took time to get going this season (1:21)

Shreyas Iyer called the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) win over Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the IPL 2024 final "comprehensive", lauding his team for playing "like invincibles throughout the season".

"This is what we demanded from the team and every individual, they stood up on the right occasion," Iyer said after KKR secured a third IPL title, their first since 2014. "It is hard to express how we are feeling right now. The wait was so long. We played like invincibles throughout the season. There is so much to cherish right now."

KKR enjoyed one of the most dominant IPL campaigns ever, equalling Shane Warne's Rajasthan Royals from 2008 for the fewest losses across a season (three). Having topped the league table, they beat SRH in Qualifier 1 by eight wickets with 38 balls to spare and amped it up a notch in the final with another eight-wicket rout, this time with 57 balls remaining.

"It is pleasing and the performance has been flawless throughout. I am running out of words right now," Iyer said of KKR's season. "We have been tremendous right from game one, and when we stepped [out], all we demanded from ourselves was to back each other no matter the situation.

"The game could have gone either way - they have been playing phenomenal cricket, SRH, throughout the season. Today, we were lucky enough to bowl first and, at the same time, every situation went in our favour. Thanks to SRH [for] the way they have played throughout the season. They have been simply phenomenal."

It was one-way traffic from the time Mitchell Starc snared Abhishek Sharma with arguably the ball of the tournament. It pitched on middle and leg and zipped sharply past Abhishek's outside edge to smash into off stump. That wicket started a slide; Vaibhav Arora took out Travis Head for a first-ball duck with a peach of an awayswinger before Starc struck for a second time, dismissing Rahul Tripathi for 9, and SRH were 21 for 3 inside five overs.

"That [big games] is when all the big players stand up," Iyer said of Starc. "It was a high-pressure game. He has been so good off the field. He has never shown any sort of complacency in his work ethic. Every time we used to go for the plunge pool, he used to be there... something for everyone to learn."

Iyer was also effusive in praise of Andre Russell, who picked up 3 for 19 in 2.3 overs to finish with 19 wickets for the season, his best tally with the ball at any IPL. "He has got that magic wand, which he is hiding somewhere on the field," Iyer said. "He is hoping to come and bowl and deliver for the team. He is waiting for me to call him all the time.

"Russell has been lucky for us. Almost in a majority of the games, whenever he has bowled, he has picked up the wickets and he has given us the breakthrough."

Starc: 'There have been plenty of jokes about the money'

Mitchell Starc reckons being "more experienced and older" since the previous time he played in the IPL (2015) helped him deal with the pressure of his huge price tag. Starc became the most expensive player in the history of the IPL, going for INR 24.75 crore (US$2,982,000 approx.) at this season's auction. He then had a tough start to the campaign, going for 100 runs across his first two games without getting a wicket, but was Player of the Match in both KKR's playoffs - the first time a player has done this at the IPL.

"There have been plenty of jokes and whatnot made about the money," he said with a laugh after the final. "It's been a long time since I have played in the IPL. I am certainly an older and more experienced player now. It's probably helped with managing all the expectations or leading the attack or whatever it maybe. I am certainly glad I am a bit more experienced and older to deal with all of that.

"Personally, it has been a lot of fun, been great to learn and see how these guys go about it. Full credit to the whole squad of players and staff, it has made my life pretty easy.

"It is a great night for KKR. What a game, what a series, what a season. It was an upward journey through from the start of the IPL to now, but we have a fantastic squad of bowlers and batters and our staff have been fantastic to get everyone peaking at the back end of the tournament. We have been such a consistent side. We haven't had one or two people standing out, it's been contributions from everyone. So, great to contribute personally but I think the fact that we've had everyone contribute throughout the year has been a big part of our success."

Narine: 'Couldn't ask for a better birthday gift'

Sunil Narine said the freedom he got, especially form team mentor Gautam Gambhir, to express himself with the bat made a huge difference to his season. His final tally read 488 runs in 14 innings at a strike rate of 180.74. He also got 17 wickets, and took home the MVP award for a record third time.

"Getting the role to just go there and express myself, trying to get the team off to a flier, that's key," Narine said. "The backing of the support staff, especially GG [Gambhir] just saying, 'go there and enjoy it, just try to win a few games for the team; I am not asking you to do the entire season, but just a few games.' That was very good advice."

This is Narine's third IPL title with KKR after 2012 and 2014, and it came on his 36th birthday.

"Coming into the ground today it felt like 2012 [when the final was also played in Chennai]. I think the feeling is overwhelming and I genuinely couldn't ask for a better birthday gift," he said. "I am enjoying my cricket at the moment, batting, bowling and fielding. What helps is when your team is winning. We have a great bunch of guys who put out a lot of work throughout the season and the fight we gave throughout the season is very good. It shows how good a team we are."