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The race for the playoffs continues with two key games which could decide who goes through to the vacant fourth spot. Abhijit Banare looks at the equations on the points table and what Rajasthan Royals (RR), Mumbai Indians (MI) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) need to do to qualify.
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP): Qualified and No. 1 on the table. Big win for KXIP against Rajasthan Royals. With 20 points, they are certain to top the points table and will get one more shot to enter the finals if they lose their first Qualifier with the second ranked team. With 10 wins in this season, Punjab as a team are certainly in form. KXIP will look to use their next match against a struggling Delhi as a practice match for the Qualifiers.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK): Qualified. With three losses in a row, CSK have a task at hand when they face Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). A win for CSK and a loss for KKR will take Chennai to the second spot.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR): Qualified. With 16 points, they will take on Sunrisers Hyderabad who are desperate to stay in the competition. KKR have an advantage of going in to the match knowing what they need to do to secure the second spot on the points table as CSK face RCB in the first of the two matches on May 24.
Rajasthan Royals (RR) & Mumbai Indians (MI): The race now is between RR and MI. It is interesting how Rajasthan Royals can end on three positions. Either they can move to second spot thereby gaining a second shot in the semis, or they can get eliminated from the competition. In the last league match of the season they take on Mumbai. The equation: MI will have to comprehensively beat RR at Wankhede to outclass them on net run-rate. MI will have to beat Rajasthan by at least 42 runs or chase the target in approximately 14.5 overs. It is far simpler for the Royals. They even have a luxury to lose the match and still qualify provided they go down by a narrow margin. Both teams will walk in to the match knowing what they want. If MI thrash RR, then Mumbai go through and if Rajasthan win they are through. If RR win convincingly (provided CSK and KKR lose), they will move to second spot (If CSK and KKR lose their respective matches).
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH): Still in contention but a huge task because of two reasons. Firstly, they have to defeat KKR by a big margin to surpass Mumbai and Rajasthan by net run rate in the points table. For instance, if they are chasing, they need to achieve the target anywhere in 11-12 overs — a tough task to achieve against in-form KKR. And secondly, even if they do notch up a big win, MI and RR play the last league phase knowing what is expected of them, so either of them could emerge a winner. SRH would be hoping MI win in a low-scoring match.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB): OUT. They take on the mighty but inconsistent Chennai Super Kings in their last league match. Already out of the playoffs race after their loss to KKR, this match will be of more relevance to CSK. A win by a good margin will help CSK cement their place at No 2. But RCB will leave no stone unturned to end on a high. They will be under no pressure and can be much more dangerous.
Delhi Daredevils (DD): OUT. They suffered a regulation loss once again to Mumbai Indians thereby allowing MI to stay in hunt for the playoffs. They now face KXIP in a dead rubber.
(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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