IPL Playoffs: Here’s how six teams are still in a playoff hunt

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If there is one thing we realised as we approach the final leg of group matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL), it is that apart from Mumbai Indians, every team will have to dig deep to qualify for the IPL playoffs. Even after 52 matches played in the IPL, not a single team had made it officially to the playoffs of the 2020 edition apart from the defending champions.

A season which would be remembered for CSK not qualifying for the playoffs for the first time-the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Delhi Capitals (DC) have faltered from a position of strength, to give teams below them a new lease of hope.

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Heading into the final four league games, apart from the already eliminated Chennai Super Kings- all other teams are in the running to finish in the top for which is an irony in itself. As things stand, Net Run Rate is likely to play a significant role too. That Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore needed just a win to guarantee a place in the playoffs but their deteriorating form, which has seen them lose three matches on the spin has opened the doors for the likes of KXIP, SRH, RR and SRH to sneak in the top four.

The two teams that are synonymous with the inconsistency and drastic change of fortune are Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Moreover, it’s not helped their NRR, as well as both DC and RCB, have a negative NRR to show for.

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Everything went perfectly for Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday night at Sharjah as the 2016 champions continued their rejuvenating run to complete their second straight win at the fag-end of the competition. In a nutshell, the final two spots will have teams with 14 points and fate decided by NRR. SRH have a guaranteed spot in the playoffs if they beat Mumbai, irrespective of their NRR. And KXIP, Rajasthan and Knight Riders may get eliminated even if they win their final league games.

Here’s what each team needs to do to qualify in their final league game.

RCB for IPL playoffs:

Despite the recent hiccups, RCB still have fate in their own hands. KKR’s defeat against CSK meant RCB needed just another win to assure a top-four finish. If RCB wins against DC on Monday, they are assured of facing MI in Qualifier 1. Only RCB or DC have the chance to reach 16 points among the teams left in the playoff hunt.

However, as unthinkable as it sounds, defeat against DC could be bad news for Virat Kohli and Co. RCB’s NRR went +0.048 to -0.145 after defeat against SRH. Both RCB and DC have worse NRR than KXIP now.

Kohli’s men will know the equation to finish with a better NRR than KXIP and RR / KKR, who play their final matches on Sunday. But, if they lose against DC and their NRR worsens, it could be a nervy wait for RCB on the final day when SRH take on MI.

Remaining match: DC

Headed home? After a promising start to IPL 2020, DC have faltered recently: Photo credit: IPL

DC for IPL playoffs:

After a splendid start to the season, DC have now suffered four consecutive defeats and inexplicably find themselves in a tricky situation. In good news, like RCB, their fate is still in their own hands. KKR’s defeat against CSK meant that DC needed just another win to ensure their place in the playoffs. If they lose their final league game, they will depend on other results to ensure qualification. They would need at least two of the three scenarios to happen:

– Kings XI Punjab lose to CSK, SRH lose to Mumbai Indians and finish on 12 points and KKR-RR match is decided by a bare minimum margin as possible so that the winner’s NRR doesn’t overtake that of Delhi Capitals.

Remaining match: RCB

Kings XI Punjab for IPL Playoffs:

The resurgent KXIP were stopped in their stride by Ben Stokes and RR. A defeat in that game means KXIP have to beat CSK to reach 14 points. Then, hope SRH, RR or KKR lose their final game and hope their run-rate is better than either of the teams or at least one of them. RCB vs DC game will be crucial for KXIP.

Remaining match: CSK

Sunrisers Hyderabad for IPL Playoffs:

After their convincing win over RCB, SRH have moved into fourth and some might even say, taken the pole position in the bid to finish there. Indeed, at this point among the four teams on 12 points, SRH’s NRR is significantly the best and they might have the most favourable equation. Nothing else matters but a win in their final match against MI.

Remaining match: MI

Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders

Due to their NRR being horrendous, both RR (-0.377) and KKR (-0.467) have a tough task at hand of making it to the next round. However, should both KXIP and SRH lose their last respective matches, the winner of KKR vs RR will go through to the playoffs.
Remaining match: They face each other

For a neutral, it all augurs down well and makes for an exciting prospect for final four league matches deciding the fate of six teams. The line has been drawn, it is a battle of six faltering sides to make the most of the chances they get and throw down the gauntlet to the defending champions!

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