After Sunday’s double-header, a total of seven league games remain in IPL 2021 and three teams – DC, CSK, and RCB – have already qualified for the playoffs. SRH, on the other hand, are out of contention. It now boils down to four teams to grab the one remaining spot in the playoff. Defending champions MI and the rest – PBKS, KKR, and RR are in a mid-table scrum for the fourth playoff berth. Interestingly, Mumbai Indians are left in the lurch on seventh and will need a major slice of luck to make the playoffs. Here’s a look at the possible scenarios for playoff qualifications:
KKR: Kolkata Knight Riders did themselves a world of good with a win over Hyderabad on Sunday and that puts them in pole position to grab the final spot. How so? Well, they are clear of the rest of the pack by two points, but the catch here is, they have just one more game remaining. A win in the final match against Rajasthan Royals on October 7th will take them to 14, and if the rest of the teams win their remaining games, they will also be on 14 points each. The advantage here though for KKR is they are the only team with a positive NRR among MI, PBKS, RR. Since KKR will play RR, there is no way both of them will reach 14 points. RR will have to win both their games to go to 14, meaning KKR, if they lose to RR, would be stuck at 12 and could very well find themselves out of the playoff race.
PBKS: Similar to KKR, Punjab are left with one game, and with a loss to RCB in their previous game, they are on 10 points and can only go up to 12 points if they managed to win their last game, against CSK on October 7th. A tough ask, no less. And not only that, if KKR wins their game against Rajasthan, which is, incidentally, after PBKS’ game the same day, PBKS will be knocked out, even if they register a win against CSK. With a win over RR, KKR will get to 14, knocking out all remaining teams.
RR: Rajasthan Royals have two games to go – one against Mumbai Indians and the other against Kolkata Knight Riders. A win against Mumbai Indians will keep their chances of qualification alive, and will most likely knock out Mumbai Indians in the process. They will still need to beat KKR in their final game to secure a long-awaited playoff berth. Simply put, get two wins and reach 14 points, or else, depend on the results of other teams and their NRRs. The fact that RR are to play the teams who are yet to qualify, puts them in a bind.
MI: Mumbai Indians find themselves in a very tough spot. They are tied with three other teams on points with two matches to go, but the catch here is MI have the worst net run rate among those teams. Even though MI have relatively easy matches in SRH in their final league game, they will have to overcome Rajasthan in their penultimate match. With RR also vying for a playoff spot, it will not be an easy task. Two wins will take them to 14 points and they could find themselves equal on points with KKR (provided KKR loses their final game). Then again NRR will come in to play and at present, MI won’t stand a chance to qualify. But, if MI manage to win both their games with huge margins and improve their NRR, and if KKR lose to SRH terribly, then there could be a chance. But, even before MI take the field against SRH in the final game on October 8, it could be all over for them if KKR beat SRH on October 7.
RCB: At 16 points, RCB are have qualified as the third team for the playoff. They have two games remaining even if they lose their next two games, they will at best finish joint third. No other team from MI, PBKS, KKR or RR can surpass their tally of 16, even if all of them will their matches, which given a few of them will play each other is impossible. RCB are to play Hyderabad and Delhi and what they will be eying now is a top–two finish, DC and CSK are at 18 and after today’s game (DC vs CSK) one of them will reach 20 points, thus securing the top-two finish, giving the team a distinctive advantage to make the finals. RCB will hope that team is CSK as Virat Kohli’s men will then have the chance to beat Delhi and draw level on points with Rishabh Pant-led team and will hope NRR comes into play and they make the top-two.
DC: Delhi Capitals have two matches remaining – one against Chennai and the other against Bangalore, which will be the final league game of IPL 2021. In effect, DC do not have any role in the fortunes of other teams in the league. What they will try and aim to do is to maintain the top-two position in the playoff, giving them entry to Qualifier 1. It won’t be an easy task, but DC will take the confidence of beating both RCB and CSK previously in the league. They can potentially finish at 22 points with two wins. Even if they lose one, with 20 points, they will still finish in top-two. Lose both, and they may see RCB sneak past them to a top-two finish
CSK: CSK are in exact same position as DC. Both teams are level on points (18) with CSK leading the table, for now, due to a superior NRR. They play Delhi today and Punjab on 7th October. A win against Punjab will end KL Rahul’s team’s chances of qualification. A loss to DC won’t impact CSK much, provided they when against PBKS. But, if they go on to lose to PBKS as well, then if RCB can win their last two games, CSK could find themselves playing the Eliminator
SRH: Hyderabad have endured possibly the worst season ever of any team in the history of the tournament. They are left with two matches – one against Royal Challengers Bangalore and other against Mumbai Indians. If they manage a win against RCB, that will put to rest RCB’s hopes of a top-two finish. And a win against MI will lay rest to MI’s campaign in the tournament. But, even if they win both their games, lose both or claim one win out of two, their standing in the points table will remain the same. The game against MI on October 8th may eventually prove inconsequential if KKR win their game on the 7th