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The jigsaw puzzle is falling into place as three out of the four playoff spots have been filled. Abhijit Banare looks at the slim chances which keeps three teams in contention for a top-four berth.
The battle between certainties:
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP): Qualified for the playoffs after defeating Delhi Daredevils two matches ago. But their loss to Mumbai Indians has provided enough scope for a revamp in the top three of the points table. They now face a desperate Rajasthan Royals tonight, and then a hapless Delhi in the penultimate match of the league phase. Punjab are unlikely to be unseated from the top as CSK and KKR can reach a maximum of only 18 points.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK): Qualified, but certainly have a big reason to worry as their bowlers have been hammered by quality batting lineups. After going down for a third straight loss, CSK would like to move into the playoffs with a win in their last match against RCB, who are already out of playoffs race.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR): Qualified. There needs to be a better term than ‘change in fortunes.’ This is the same team that messed up winning positions in the first half of the season. But they haven’t done much wrong in the Indian leg. Robin Uthappa is the face of this turnaround, but they will have to comprehensively beat a desperate Sunrisers Hyderabad on May 24 to enter the top two of points table.
Rajasthan Royals (RR): With 14 points, they have kept the little inch of competition alive. If they lose to Kings XI Punjab on May 23, SRH and MI are still in the race. If they win, their playoffs spot is sealed. IPL has never been short of drama. If RR lose, they face MI in the last league match of the season which they will have to win. Even if they lose that, the net run-rate could come in to play (provided SRH and MI win).
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH): Still in contention after thrashing CSK. The first step for SRH is to hope Rajasthan Royals lose to Kings XI Punjab on May 23. And then they have to beat KKR on May 24 convincingly to edge past RR on net run-rate and stay on 14 points. And after that, they require assistance form Mumbai Indians to beat RR.
Mumbai Indians (MI): Among the three teams – MI, SRH & RR – MI have the least points. They will be hoping for a miracle to take them in to playoffs. The first task is to beat Delhi in the afternoon match and then hope Punjab beat Rajasthan to keep the competition alive. MI will have to convincingly thrash Delhi to challenge the Royals in net run-rate. They are already ahead of SRH in the net run-rate race.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB): OUT Messed up a high run-chase against Kolkata Knight Riders on May 22 to exit from the playoffs race. The first casualty in the race between five teams for entering top four of points table. By losing they sent KKR in to the payoffs.
Delhi Daredevils (DD): OUT Already out of the competition. All they can do is spoil the confidence of M7umbai Indians on May 24. If they win against MI, then Mumbai are out of the competition.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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