In what could well be one of the most intense contests of IPL this year, Kolkata and Hyderabad will lock horns on Friday evening in the tournament's second qualifier for the right to play Chennai in the summit clash this Sunday.
While Hyderabad may have finished the league stage at the top, a loss to Chennai in the first qualifier robbed them of a direct pass into the final. Now, the team will have to pull itself from that heartbreaking and nerve-wracking loss and face Kolkata - a side that finished the league stage third and managed to outsmart Rajasthan in the eliminator.
Both teams have some powerful performers capable of robbing the opposition of wins. Both teams have actually managed to upstage each other in the league stage which goes on to show just how close Friday's do-or-die encounter could really be.
Reflecting back on duels between the two sides in this tournament, it is amply clear that no one team enjoys the bragging rights.
The first time Hyderabad faced off against Kolkata was on April 14 at the Eden Gardens - the same venue where Friday's clash is scheduled at. It may not have been a carnival of runs but it had every other element which mostly define a T20 potboiler. Hyderabad skipper Kane Williamson had won the toss and had chosen to bowl - a decision that bore fruit in the third over itself when Robin Uthappa was caught behind off Bhuvneshwar Kumar's bowling.
The other opener in Chris Lynn managed to stich together some partnerships en route a 34-ball 49 but no other batsman could unleash fury that could help Kolkata post a formidable total.
But a target of 139 did become challenging for Hyderabad thanks to quality bowling from spinners Sunil Narine (2/17), Piyush Chawla (1/20) and Kuldeep Yadav (1/23) - all bowling four overs each.
Skipper Williamson (50 off 44) though managed to keep the score ticking and by the time he fell - in the 18th over, it was too little too late. Hyderabad wrapped the match with an entire over and with five wickets to spare.
The second encounter between the two teams happened more than a month later - on May 19 - with the need for win very different for the two.
Having already qualified, Hyderabad only wanted momentum while Kolkata was fighting for a definite place in the top four. The toss once again went Williamson's way but this time, he opted to bat in front of home fans. The team got a solid foundation thanks to the top four - Shikhar Dhawan (50 off 39), Shreevats Goswami, (35 off 26) Williamson (36 off 17) and Manish Pandey (25 off 22).
Narine once again bowled a tidy four-over spell but had the Hyderabad middle-order fired, the total could have been far more than 172/9.
In reply, Kolkata opener Lynn fired three sixes and four boundaries to give his team a solid chance of a win. He would score a 43-ball 55, supported by Narine's 10-ball 29 and Uthappa's 34-ball 45. Towards the end, the match becomes a thriller of sorts but Kolkata captain Dinesh Karthik's 22-ball 26 ensured his side not only had its revenge but two valuable points courtesy a win with only two deliveries remaining.
So, both sides have downed each other once in the tournament but none of that would matter as they clash in the match which matters the most - so far. Will Williamson's luck with toss matter? Can Dhawan get past his first-ball duck in the first qualifier? What about Narine's batting explosives and Kolkata's sensational spinners? Answers 1900hrs onwards.