With IPL 2021 living up to its high expectations until now, the third match-day between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders is likely to be another closely fought match. Two former IPL winners clash against each other at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. The two sides surprisingly ended up the previous season with the same points – 14 (SRH progressed to the playoffs due to higher NRR). Both of them will be eyeing strong starts to IPL 2021 on Sunday.
In the 19 matches played between the two franchises, KKR has proved to be more effective in terms of the head-to-head battles with SRH, coming out victorious 12 times. In fact, by losing both legs in IPL 2020, SRH succumbed to the dominance of the two-time IPL champions.
Regardless of having a rusty beginning to their campaign last year, the Hyderabadis did manage to make it to the playoffs with the second-highest Net Run Rate of +0.608, even after sharing points with Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders. Although they lost in the second qualifier against Delhi Capitals, they managed to claim the bronze medal with players like Warner, Pandey, Williamson, Holder, and Rashid Khan playing a key role to push the team to that stage.
On the other hand, KKR had one of the most disappointing IPLs as the East Indian side missed out on a playoff spot due to an NRR deficit of 0.042, as they tied points with RCB and SRH. The team that made it to the playoffs six times, had struggled in maintaining consistency right from the beginning in the previous season, with injuries pouring in and players unable to find their form. However, as the new season began, new hopes and opportunities have sprung for both sides with a better approach and an improvised squad.
SRH is highly likely to miss out on the services by their star all-rounder Jason Holder, who arrived on Monday, March 5. He is currently undergoing through mandatory quarantine of seven days that will last till March 11 – SRH’s matchday. Jason Roy will also miss this game since he also joined the squad this week. The English batsman was unsold in IPL 2021 auction, but he was later picked as a replacement for Mitchell Marsh.
Meanwhile, KKR will have a complete squad available for this game. Nitish Rana has been training with the team after testing positive for coronavirus at the end of March. Meanwhile, Gurkeerat Singh Mann was brought in as a replacement for injured Rinku Singh.
Predicted Playing XI
For the SRH side, the batting lineup will include established international quartet of David Warner, Kane Williamson, Jonny Bairstow, and Manish Pandey.KKR might use their previous tactics of sending Sunil Narine to open in order to get a strong start. Varun Chakravarthy is very likely to be included in the playing 11 after his breakthrough performance in the previous edition of IPL.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Varun Chakravarthy, Prasidh Krishna
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Abdul Samad, Wriddhiman Saha, Vijay Shankar, Rashid Khan, Khaleel Ahmad, T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Key Battle to watch
To get the better of KKR batsmen, Rashid Khan will be deployed in the middle overs. Khan will come up against Eoin Morgan, who had previously hammered him across the park during the 2019 World Cup. If the opening spell of Natarajan and Bhuvneshwar succeeds, then Rashid will be the one in charge of overseeing the middle order batsmen that include their formidable captain.
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