Former tournament winners Kolkata and Hyderabad kick off their Indian T20 League campaign in Chennai on Sunday night. Both sides appeared in a thrilling super over when they last met in Indian T20 League.
Match Timings: April 11, 7:30 PM IST
Two underdogs of the Indian T20 League will face each other in the Sunday encounter of season 2021. Hyderabad will play the first five matches in Chennai and it can help them to set the tone for the whole tournament. David Warner’s troops are strong favourites for the titles and they have never missed playoffs since their title triumph in 2016. Warner scored more than 500 in his last five seasons. The same story goes for Rashid who has been pretty consistent for Hyderabad and played a vital role since his debut for the franchise.
Hyderabad will focus more on the spin-attack and they have a strong backup for each role. Nabi might replace Jason Holder in Chennai considering the spin on the surface. Williamson would play a sheet anchor and he can play spin very well. It means, Saha can open with Warner. Manish Pandey and Williamson will bat at number three and four. Priyam Garg and Kedar Jadhav are two good options in middle-order. If Warner looks for an all-round option then Abdul Samad or Vijay Shankar can get the nod. Shankar was impactful in warm-up matches. Sandeep Sharma, Bhuvi, and Natarajan are three front-line Indian pacers. With this bowling attack, they are a dangerous side. Chennai’s surface suits Hyderabad’s playing style and they are entering as the favourites.
Meanwhile, Kolkata would avoid any drama this season. They missed out playoffs due to NRR in 2020 and at the midway of the season, they changed their skipper. They couldn’t figure out their batting order throughout the season. Morgan will now be full-time captain. Tripathi and Gill might open for Kolkata. Rana comes at number three and Morgan can bat at four. Shakib can replace Narine due to his better approach with both bat and ball. Kolkata will play with three pacers Pat Cummins, Mavi, and Prasidh Krishna.
Varun Chakravarthy will be the main spinner who was the leading wicket-taker of Kolkata last season. Morgan’s troops would expect some fire from Russell who was off the colours last season. If Morgan looks for another spin-option, he can also pick either Harbhajan Singh or Kuldeep in place of any Indian pacer. Harbhajan Singh had great numbers in Chepauk as he played two seasons for Chennai and was really impactful. Kolkata have quality players but how they execute this season will be important. Kolkata had the final laugh in the last two matches between both sides. The most recent was a super-over victory when Ferguson finished the game with two wickets in super over, followed by a 3-wicket haul.
Chepauk’s surface is an ideal T20 track and it offers good assistance to batsmen and bowlers. Spinners can take the charge in middle-order. The chasing side will have an advantage. We may expect a score of 160-170.
Rahul Tripathi, Shubhman Gill, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Eoin Morgan (C), Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Varun Chakravarthy, Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi
Previous season – 5th position
David Warner (c), W Saha (wk), Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Priyam Garg/Vijay Shankar, Kedar Jadhav, Mohammed Nabi, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T. Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma
Previous season – Playoffs (3rd place)
Top-scorer for Kolkata last season
Shakib Al Hasan
Handy with bat and ball, the best pick for a surface like Chennai
500 plus runs in the last 6 seasons he played
A match-winner and best pick on slow-tracks