The third match of the Indian T20 League 2021 will see two of the more consistent teams of the tournament – Hyderabad and Kolkata - clashing at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday, April 11.

After both the teams finished on 14 points last season, Hyderabad (+0.608) edged past Kolkata (-0.214) with their superior run rate. And fans will expect the crunch clash on Sunday to be equally close.

Both Hyderabad and Kolkata had made a conservative approach in the mini-auction, with less money in the purse for both sides, all their core players were retained in their respective squads. While the big buys for Eoin Morgan’s side included Shakib Al Hasan and Ben Cutting, Hyderabad’s shrewd management plugged their holes by roping in experienced all-rounder Kedar Jadhav and spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman.

Hyderabad vs Kolkata full squads for Indian T20 League 2021

Hyderabad: David Warner (captain), Abhishek Sharma, Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jonny Bairstow (wicket-keeper), Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Shreevats Goswami (wicket-keeper), Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, T Natarajan, Vijay Shankar, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Jason Holder, Abdul Samad, Jagadeesha Suchith, Kedar Jadhav, Mujeeb ur Rahman

Kolkata: Eoin Morgan (captain), Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Gurkeerat Singh, Rahul Tripathi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Pat Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Tim Seifert (wicket-keeper), Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson (wicket-keeper), Vaibhav Arora, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Ben Cutting, Pawan Negi, Venkatesh Iyer

Hyderabad vs Kolkata playing XI predictions

Like defending champions Mumbai, Hyderabad has had a settled playing XI for the past few seasons. The team almost always depends on their top four batsmen to provide a strong start and the management’s only tricky decision will be whom to pick as a floater alongside Vijay Shankar. While Priyam Garg and Wriddhiman Saha suit the positions, Saha is expected to get the green light owing to his international experience.

The team selection for Kolkata won’t be very different. With most of their playing XI tried and tested for a few seasons now, the management will just have to choose between one of Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine. And while both the players are match-winners on their given day, it will be Shakib’s reliable batting skills that will likely get the nod at Chepauk.

Hyderabad playing XI: David Warner (captain), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Jonny Bairstow, Manish Pandey, Kane Williamson, Vijay Shankar, Abdul Samad, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma

Kolkata playing XI: Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (captain) Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russell, Rahul Tripathi/Karun Nair, Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, Prasidh Krishna, Varun Chakravarthy

Hyderabad vs Kolkata head-to-head in Indian T20 League

Hyderabad and Kolkata have faced each other 19 times with the latter leading the head-to-head record 12-7 quite comfortably winning 63.6 per cent of the matches played between these two sides. However, what makes Sunday's game even more exciting for Kolkata is Hyderabad's record at Chepauk.

Hyderabad have played in Chennai only thrice in the high-profile league, failing to win on each occasion. Hence, even by Kolkata's underwhelming record of just two wins at the venue in nine games, they have a better chance of winning the fixture.

Hyderabad vs Kolkata: Match result prediction

While Hyderabad boasts of some of the best names in T20 cricket in their batting line-up, Kolkata have arguably the best middle order in the tournament. However, as was evident on Saturday, Chepauk’s slow and spinning turf will have more for the bowlers than batsmen.

Interestingly, while Rashid Khan will be a big weapon for Hyderabad, Kolkata have Shakib Al Hasan and Varun Chakravarthy to inflict damage. With both the teams evenly matched, it is Kolkata’s experience at the venue that should give them the edge in their opening match.

Best performers in Hyderabad vs Kolkata

Top Tip: Best Batsmen

Hyderabad would edge almost any team in the Indian T20 League riding on David Warner’s stupendous batting records. The southpaw has been one of the most successful run-getters in the tournament with 5,254 runs to his name in 142 matches, and 912 runs of his tally have come against Kolkata. He will undoubtedly be the player to watch on Sunday’s fixture.

Though Kolkata's best bet against Hyderabad so far has been their former skipper Dinesh Karthik, who has 259 runs in 18 matches, Shubman Gill is expected to be Hyderabad’s main threat on Sunday. The youngster had tallied 440 runs last season and if his Australian tour is anything to go by, then the opener is expected to amass big scores this season.

Top Tip: Best Bowlers

Hyderabad is known to defend the smallest of targets with their bowling and captain David Warner will hope to see Bhuvneshwar Kumar back to his devastating best, which was evident in India’s recently concluded series against England. The pacer has 27 scalps against Kolkata and will be licking his lips to get the season started with a bang.

Kolkata's best bowler against Hyderabad has been wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who has 10 wickets in 10 matches. However, with the bowler hitting a bad patch of late, he is unlikely to be picked for the match. From Ajantha Mendis to Sunil Narine, Kolkata have possessed some brilliant mystery spinners in the Indian T20 League with the latest one being Varun Chakravarthy. The finger spinner took 17 wickets last season including one five-wicket haul to his name. His variations have been a much-talked-about subject ahead of the tournament.

Top tip: All-rounders and wicket-keepers

Sunday’s clash could see two of the best wicket-keepers of the tournament facing each other. Hyderabad have a seasoned and disciplined wicket-keeper in Wriddhiman Saha who has bagged 76 dismissals, comprising 56 catches and 20 stumpings, in the Indian T20 League so far. However, Kolkata’s Dinesh Karthik topples Saha with his record of 140 dismissals - 110 catches and 30 stumpings. Karthik also has the record of taking the most catches behind the wicket in the tournament’s history.

All-rounder is a specific trait that Hyderabad’s team lacks. Though Vijay Shankar does the job decently for the side, Kolkata has an edge with Andre Russell in their ranks. The West Indian has the highest strike rate in the Indian T20 League with 182.33 scoring 1,517 runs. Apart from that Andre Russell also contributes as a death-over specialist having scalped 61 wickets in the tournament so far.

Feature Image Courtesy: AFP/ Dibyangshu Sarkar