KKR 2024 for MI 2020 - which was the more dominant IPL campaign?

It is a tough call between KKR of 2024 and MI of 2020. [BCCI/ iplt20.com]
It is a tough call between KKR of 2024 and MI of 2020. [BCCI/ iplt20.com]

The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) beat the SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) by eight wickets in the final of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Sunday, May 26.

They capped off a scintillating run this campaign in which they ended the league phase at the top of the table with 20 points and quite rightly won the title. Gautam Gambhir's return to the side as their mentor - he guided them to their previous two title wins in 2012 and 2014 as captain - saw a marked improvement in KKR's approach towards the game on the field.

Gambhir is known to be an aggressive motivator of players off the field and his direct approach to dealing with players seems to bring the best out of them on the field in crunch situations.

Another factor why KKR worked so well this season is that invariably, most of their players delivered under pressure, and the most prized of them all - Mitchell Starc - came good in the playoffs when he was needed the most.

This KKR side was perhaps the best to have played in the IPL this season, although SRH came a distinct second. The latter fell short due to their inability to maintain any semblance of consistency in pressure situations.

KKR had a well-rounded side with most holes plugged in. If it seemed after the auction that their opening combination could be the one worrying them the most, the management's choice to pair Phil Salt with Sunil Narine worked wonders.

In the middle order, the core of Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Rinku Singh, and Andre Russell which they have maintained over the years helped give the Kolkata-based franchise the stability they desperately needed.

The bowling helped KKR even when their star-studded all-round batting lineup did not come good. Starc, Vaibhav Arora, and Harshit Rana combined to form a rather unlikely but deadly pace-bowling trio, with another faithful servant Varun Chakravarthy coming in later to turn the ball.

Narine and Russell, of course, came in handy with the ball whenever their skipper needed them, and this is what gave KKR the balance as well as know-how to tackle any team in any conditions. Mentally, it did appear as if the Purples had covered all bases.

Their win over SRH in the final will mark them as one of the best-ever teams to have played in this competition, and very rarely have a franchise deserved to be called so along with the other greats of this tournament such as the Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings.

MI beat DC in the final of the 2020 IPL

Now that we have mentioned the Mumbai Indians, it would do us no harm in harking back to the past and taking a look at the near-flawless season that they had in 2020.

Played in September of that year in the United Arab Emirates owing to the outbreak of COVID-19 and its subsequent management in India, this IPL saw no crowds in the stadiums for the first time.

MI won the IPL that season by beating Delhi Capitals in the final by eight wickets, but they had earmarked themselves for greatness in the league phase of the tournament itself.

The Blues won nine out of the fourteen games that they played that year, losing a mere five, and ending up on the top of the table with 18 points inside their kitty. The eventual runner-up DC came a close second with 16 points to their name.

Although they were beaten by CSK in their opening encounter in Abu Dhabi by 5 wickets, MI bagged their first points of the table by defeating KKR next by a whopping 49 runs.

A tied encounter against the Royal Challengers Bengaluru came up next, which they lost in the super-over; after this came a run of five consecutive wins which was broken only by the Punjab Kings via a second super-over played after a tie.

Just as KKR beat SRH first in Qualifier 1 and later in the final this season, MI emerged as winners over DC in both of these games in the 2020 season. In the end, they were undoubtedly the best side in the IPL that campaign and deserved to win.

With both the Pandya brothers in the side and Rohit Sharma leading it, MI had a terrific squad that season. Australian opener Chris Lynn provided firepower at the top while Kieron Pollard and Quinton de Kock added depth to their batting.

The likes of Trent Boult and Nathan Coulter-Nile supplemented the good work that Jasprit Bumrah, Rahul Chahar, and Mitchell McClenaghan did and shaped them into a truly all-round side.

Add to this the fact that there was no impact player rule back then, which tested the fitness of the players in every condition and situation they were thrown into in this grueling competition.

If it were to come down to a comparison, it would be a big challenge for any side in the history of the IPL to match up to the display of fireworks MI showed in the pandemic-hit 2020 season, but KKR came rather close this campaign.

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