Kolkata Knight Riders take on Sunrisers Hyderabad at Eden Gardens, Kolkata on Sunday and the battle promises to be an exciting one with spinners from either side set to take center-stage.
In the 15 matches between these two sides, KKR have had the edge, winning nine of them. At Eden, their record is even better winning five of the seven matches.
Last season, the Sunrisers came to Eden Gardens twice, and won both the matches including the Qualifier.
For both the teams, the spinners played a massive role last season with Rashid Khan (21 wickets) and Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav (17 wickets apiece) topping the wicket charts for the two teams respectively.
The two premier KKR spinners have picked 10 wickets each against Sunrisers. Piyush Chawla also has picked five wickets against Sunrisers but surprisingly Rashid Khan has done below par in such clashes - although his 3/19 in the Qualifiers last season helped them beat KKR. He has a total of five wickets in six matches against KKR at an average of 31.8.
In the last three years, Rashid has taken 38 wickets in the league at an economy of 6.69 which puts him on par with Narine in the same time period – 38 wickets at economy of 7.28. For KKR, Chawla (31 wickets) and Kuldeep (35 wickets) also have 30-plus wickets in this time frame.
What works for KKR is that they can fit in all three spinners – Narine, Kuldeep and Chawla – without compromising on batting or pace bowling positions courtesy Narine’s all-round prowess and a fast bowling all-rounder in Andre Russell.
Sunrisers, meanwhile, were boosted by the addition of Shakib-Al-Hasan from KKR. Shakib in his first major season with Sunrisers last year, performed much better than at KKR, taking 14 wickets in 17 matches, the most he has taken in any season of the IPL. He combined with Rashid Khan quite effectively last season and this spin twin threat would be one to watch out for in the contest.
Last season, Shakib played in all three matches against KKR, his former franchise, and picked up four wickets while conceding runs miserly at an economy of 6.7.
Barring 2018, Eden was a fortress for KKR and they had won all five matches against Sunrisers at the venue.
Last year, though, they lost both their matches at home to Sunrisers which further makes this contest an eagerly anticipated one.
Spinners will play a crucial role for both the teams and the middle-overs’ phase could well define the result of the match.