Kolkata will start their matches in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium with a crunch clash against Chennai in the second match of the double-header on April 21, Wednesday.
The two-time Indian T20 League champions had a good start in the tournament when they defeated Hyderabad comprehensively in their season-opener. However, since then Kolkata have gone on to lose against Mumbai and Bangalore and currently sit fifth in the points table.
MS Dhoni’s Chennai, on the other hand, started in quite the opposite manner. The three-time champions started with a loss against Delhi in the opening match, but have since won matches against Punjab and Rajasthan to sit second in the points table.
Kolkata vs Chennai probable playing XI
Kolkata fans would be expecting to see changes in their starting line-up after the side left Chepauk’s turning track for a more batting-friendly Wankhede. And the one change that is expected by most is the replacement of Shakib-Al-Hasan with West Indies spinner Sunil Narine.
As for Chennai, MS Dhoni’s only concern amidst his winning run will be the poor form of young opener Ruturaj Gaikwad. Having a veteran opener and top-order batsman like Robin Uthappa in the squad, Chennai could experiment with their playing XI against Kolkata.
Kolkata predicted XI: Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Eoin Morgan (captain), Dinesh Kartik, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummin, Harbhajan Singh, Prasidh Krishna, Varun Chakravarthy
Chennai predicted XI: Faf du Plessis, Robin Uthappa, Moeen Ali, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (captain/wicket-keeper), Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur
Kolkata vs Chennai prediction: Who will win?
Despite losing the 2012 Indian T20 League final to Kolkata, MS Dhoni has always had an upper hand against Kolkata. Chennai have won 14 of their 22 (63.64 per cent) matches against them.
Apart from that, what will bother Kolkata captain Eoin Morgan is their below-par win ratio at the Wankhede Stadium. Kolkata have won in Mumbai just once in their nine attempts, as opposed to Chennai's nine wins in 17 matches.
Without a doubt, the MS Dhoni-led Chennai side remain the favourites to win the encounter on Wednesday. More than their superior head-to-head, it will be Chennai's form and their recent acquaintance with Mumbai conditions that will go in their favour. Having played three matches at the Wankhede already, MS Dhoni knows his combinations well, whereas Kolkata will try to adapt to things as fast as possible.
Best performers in Kolkata vs Chennai: Prediction
Top Tip: Best Batsmen
Former Kolkata captain Dinesh Karthik will be the best bet for Eoin Morgan when facing Chennai. Karthik has faced Chennai 25 times, garnering 512 runs at a strike rate of 126.1. The middle-order batsman might not have been in form for the past two years but his brief cameos - like the 9-ball 22 against Hyderabad - have kept the Kolkata management optimistic about his contributions.
Chennai will be relying on their trusted general Suresh Raina to get the job done against Kolkata. The southpaw has scored a mammoth 818 runs against Kolkata in 24 matches, with an astonishing eight half-centuries to his name.
Top Tip: Best Bowlers
The biggest threat that Kolkata could pose against Chennai is Harbhajan Singh. Wankhede has been home for Bhajji for years when he was with Mumbai, and the veteran spinner will also know the game plan of Dhoni given his stay with Chennai for the 2019 season. Harbhajan has taken 24 wickets in 21 matches against Chennai.
For Chennai, it is their all-rounder Dwayne Bravo who has always been clinical against Kolkata. The pacer has picked 17 wickets against Kolkata at an average of 28.64.
Top Tips: All-rounder and Wicket-keeper
Interestingly, both Kolkata and Chennai have two of the most veteran wicket-keepers of the Indian T20 League. While MS Dhoni has 148 dismissals from behind the stumps in 200 matches, Karthik boasts of 142 dismissals in 182 matches, having played for six franchises. However, Dhoni will be the favourites given his unconventional ways from behind the stumps.
As far as the all-rounder is concerned, Kolkata's Andre Russell stands tall. The West Indies player has been coming to form of late as was evident with his five-fer against Mumbai and his 20-ball 31 knock against Bangalore. Though Chennai have some handy all-rounders in Ravindra Jadeja, Bravo and Sam Curran, none of them has stood out with both the bat and the ball so far.
Featured Image: Twitter/ Indian Premier League