We are finally on to the last week of the league stage of the 11th season of IPL and it must be said that it has been one of the most open seasons ever in the short history of the tournament. 48 matches done and dusted, seven teams are still in fray for the silverware. Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings have already booked their play-off berths with two matches each still in hand. Delhi Daredevils are the only side that stand eliminated with eight league games still to be played. By virtue of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s win over Kings XI Punjab in Indore, SRH are assured of a top-two finish and will head to Mumbai for the first qualifier.
As of how things stand – after the clash between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab – among the eight remaining matches barring the DD – CSK clash, every other result will have a bearing on the qualification.
Here are what the five teams must do to progress to the play-offs:
Kolkata Knight Riders (Points 12; NRR -0.189)
With six wins and as many losses in 12 games, KKR still have their fate in their own hands. If they win their last two games, they are assured of a last four finish. They can progress even with one win if both KXIP and RR don’t win all their remaining games. If KKR win only one out of their last two matches, there is a possibility of multiple teams finishing at 14 points and team(s) with the highest NRR can go through. Having said that, KKR’s NRR of -0.189 is behind that of MI (+0.405) and RCB (+0.218) and it can come to bite them in case of a tie in points. The negative NRR which can depreciate further with more losses, which mean the theoretical possibility of them qualifying with 12 points is highly unlikely.
Rajathan Royals (Points 12; NRR -0.347)
After struggling with just six points from nine games, RR have stormed back into contention with three Jos Buttler-led back-to-back wins. Their situation is very similar to that of KKR, whom they are scheduled to face next. Two wins should see them through, but they can also go through if they finish with 14 points. If they get the better of KKR at the Eden on Tuesday, they not only reach 14 points with a game in hand but also prevent KKR from overtaking them on the points tally. Like KKR, a huge deficit on NRR rules out the hypothetical possibility of them qualifying on 12 points.
Kings XI Punjab (Points 12; NRR -0.518)
After spending most of the tournament in the top half of the table, the worst day of the season for them pushed them to the bottom half a crucial time. They suffered a reversal of fortune in the second-half of the season. After winning five out of their first six games, they could win only one out of the next six. They have two away games scheduled next – in Mumbai and in Pune. If they win both they are through for sure. If they win only one, they will be tied on 14 points with multiple teams. With their NRR taking a huge hit after the massive defeat to RCB (from -0.056 to -0.518), there’s a high possibility of them getting knocked out if they are part of a 14-points/12-points tie with multiple teams.
Mumbai Indians (Points 10; NRR +0.405)
A spate of last-over losses at the start of the season has left the defending champions with too much to catch up with at the fag end of the tournament. The winning momentum they started to gather was arrested by the loss to RR at the Wankhede and they now need other results to go their way to qualify. They will be eliminated if they lose to KXIP on Wednesday. If they win both their remaining matches, it will make sure the fourth qualifying team can go through with 14 points. In that case, their already healthy NRR of +0.405 (the highest for any side after 48 matches) will further get boosted and can come to their rescue. In the event of them beating KXIP and losing to DD, there exists a remote possibility of the fourth team going through with 12 points. As said before, a healthy positive NRR can turn the tide in MI’s favour if that happens.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (Points 10; NRR +0.218)
Back-to-back wins for the first time in two seasons has given RCB’s quest for a maiden IPL title a fresh lease of life, albeit them needing other results to go their way. If KXIP and one of KKR or RR win all their remaining games, RCB stands eliminated come what may. The best RCB can reach is 14 points where they can tie with other sides and race ahead by virtue of a positive NRR. The huge win over KXIP has shot their NRR from -0.261 to +0.218 and it will get further enhanced with another couple of wins. Like MI, thanks to their healthy NRR, they can also progress to the business end of the season in case of a four-way tie at 12 points.