The final weeks of the Indian Premier League (IPL) have become an extremely tight affair with Royal Challengers Bangalore’ late upsurge — thrashing in-form teams Gujarat Lions and Kolkata Knight Riders by massive margins.
Heading into the last two rounds of matches, as many as six teams are separated by just four points. Only the Kings XI Punjab and Rising Pune Supergiants know their fate for certain — both will definitely play no further part once the group stages are done. Any of the other six teams could finish in any of the top four positions and any of them could still be knocked out if a few results don’t go their way.
Here’s a handy guide to simplify the IPL 2016 play-off situation:
SRH are the one team with the best chance of qualifying for the knock-out stage. Sixteen points from 12 games means the Sunrisers just need to win one out of their two remaining matches. Add to this their superior run-rate — at 0.400, they are second only to RCB on the NRR — they will probably make the cut even if they ensure they don’t lose both matches by big margins. However, their two remaining matches, away games at Delhi and Kolkata, will not be easy.
Kolkata Knight Riders:
Had they only pulled off a win against RCB on Monday night, they could have been in the same comfortable boat as SRH. Instead, KKR's loss means they need to win one out of two remaining games, both tough matches, against Gujarat Lions and Sunrisers Hyderabad. Their late season implosion of last year — where they lost their final two matches and missed out on the knock-out stages by a single point — will be weighing on their minds. Their NRR is currently good, but further defeats can dent this, so at least one victory is essential for Gautam Gambhir and his men.
The defending champions are currently third on the points table, but their destiny is not in their own hands anymore. They have only one match left, against Gujarat Lions, and not only need to win that but also hope that other teams' results go their way. The massive defeats they suffered at the hands of Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab has also resulted in a woeful NRR, so even if they are tied on points, they are team most likely to go out. Quite simply, unless they thrash the Lions by an RCB-esque margin, they would depend on a whole host of external factors to qualify.
At the midway point of the IPL tournament, the Gujarat Lions were the team to beat. Their record read: Played 7, Won 6, 12 points. They just needed to win two out of their remaining seven games to qualify. Calling it a formality would appear to be an understatement. Since then, however, they have played five and won just a solitary game, the most recent being a 144-run shellacking at the hands of RCB that has left them tottering on the brink like the village drunk. That defeat has given them a NRR of -0.747, which is twice as bad as the already eliminated Kings XI Punjab and Rising Pune Supergiants put together. Quite simply they need to win both their remaining matches, thereby moving to 18 points and securing automatic qualification. Anything that comes down to net run-rate will end badly for the team from Rajkot.
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
They are the complete opposite of Gujarat Lions. At the half-way point, they had played seven matches and won just two. They now stand at played 12 and won six. As the Lions' fortunes have dovetailed, Bangalore's have risen. They are, ironically enough, the team most in control of their own destiny. Their incredible run-rate — best in the eight-team league — will ensure that if they can just win their final two matches they are certain to go through. That these matches come against the already eliminated Kings XI Punjab and the misfiring Delhi Daredevils will give Virat Kohli's men something more to cheer about.
The Daredevils have now lost two matches out of two, and looked confused when it came to team composition and strategies. Defeat on Tuesday night, against the already eliminated Pune Supergiants, has not only left them on 12 points from 12 games but has also given them a poor -0.125 run-rate. They need to beat table-topping Sunrisers Hyderabad and the resurgent Royal Challengers Bangalore in their final two matches and do so by handy margins as well, so as to pip other teams on NRR. What's more, they won't even have home conditions to play in, as the two matches are at the neutral Raipur ground. The script is suddenly going sour for Dravid and Co.
Updated Date: May 18, 2016 12:57 PM