The battle for the playoff spots has really heated up in the last few days of the Indian T20 League and it is expected to become far more intense as we enter the last seven games of the league stage. Only Mumbai have a confirmed playoff berth at the moment whereas Chennai are already out of contention. So, three playoff spots still remain up for grabs with a total of six teams fighting for them. Having said that, let us take a look at how the scenario might pan out for each of those six teams in the remaining seven matches.
Matches remaining vs Hyderabad, Delhi
Bangalore were in a prime position to qualify for the playoffs as one of the top two teams a couple of matches back. But back to back losses have now left them searching for at least one win in their remaining two matches of the league stage against Hyderabad and Delhi. Bangalore had suffered a massive loss by 59 runs at the hands of the Delhi-side in their reverse fixture earlier in the season. But they had won convincingly against Hyderabad and thus will be confident of winning against them again. In fact, they face Hyderabad in their next match, so they will be eager to seal their playoff berth before going into the final encounter.
Matches remaining vs Mumbai, Bangalore
It looked like Delhi would be the first team to confirm their berth in the playoffs after they won seven out of their first nine games. However, they have gone on to register a hat-trick of losses since then and that has put them in a precarious situation now. Although they still find themselves placed at the third spot with a decent NRR of +0.030, Delhi will have to find a way of winning at least one match against two top teams like Mumbai and Bangalore. It won’t be easy as both of those teams have the ammunition to take Delhi down. A win will take Delhi to safety as they will reach 16 points. But defeats in both matches might see them crashing out from the playoff race as well.
Matches remaining vs Rajasthan, Chennai
Punjab looked absolutely down and out of the tournament at the halfway stage. They had lost six out of their first seven matches and nothing seemed like working out for them. However, KL Rahul and his men made a miraculous comeback in the second half of the season and have gone on to win five matches on the trot since then. That has helped them to climb up to the fourth spot with 12 points. They will face Rajasthan and Chennai in their last two league stage matches now. A win against Rajasthan on Friday will help them to widen the gap between them and the bottom four teams further. But a loss will bring the other teams in close contention once again. That will make their match against Chennai a must-win clash. However, if they manage to win both of their remaining matches, they will have a shot at qualifying as one of the top two teams as well, provided other results go their way.
Matches remaining vs Rajasthan
With only one match to play in the league stage, the equation for Kolkata is pretty simple – win the match by a big margin and pray! They are now sitting at the fifth spot with 12 points to their name but their NRR of -0.467 is the third-worst among all teams. So, in order to qualify for the playoffs, they would not only need to ensure a big win in their last match, but will have to hope that other results go their way too. Punjab can reach a maximum of 16 points if they win their remaining two games and that will end Kolkata’s chances of qualification. So the Eoin Morgan-led side will hope that either Punjab lose at least one of their matches by a big margin or one of Delhi and Bangalore end up losing both of their remaining matches.
Matches remaining vs Bangalore, Mumbai
Hyderabad are still in contention for a playoff spot with 10 points to their name after 12 games. Their NRR of +0.396 is the second-best among all teams as well, but they will bump into two of the best teams of this edition in their last two league matches. Defending Champions Mumbai have already qualified and have been in rampaging form as well. Bangalore, on the other hand, are stronger and a far more balanced side than Hyderabad and that puts them in good stead to win their clash as well. In fact, Hyderabad lost both of the reverse fixtures against these two sides earlier this season and that sums up the difference in quality of the teams.
Matches remaining vs Punjab, Kolkata
Their fate in the competition is directly intertwined with that of Kolkata and Punjab. Rajasthan have 10 points to their name at the moment and two more wins can take them up to 14 points, but their NRR of -0.505 is once again the second-worst in the tournament. So they not only need to win both of their matches but need big margins of victory as well. If they lose Friday’s match against Punjab, their chances of qualification will end right there as Punjab will reach 14 points. It will only be a consolation win even if they win their last match against Kolkata, as that will take Rajasthan up to only 12 points – 2 points shorter than the minimum points required to stand a chance of qualifying.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IndianT20League