Qualification scenarios – Six games, five teams, two spots

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There are only six league games left in the season, but five teams are still in contention for the last two playoff spots. ESPNcricinfo looks at how the qualification scenarios will be affected by the result of Thursday’s game between Royal Challengers Bangalore (10 points, 0.218 net run-rate) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (18 points, 0.400 NRR). With Sunrisers already assured a place in the top two, the focus is on how Royal Challengers’ performance will impact both themselves and the other teams fighting for a playoff spot.

If Royal Challengers win:

  • They will keep their playoff hopes alive, but they will still need to win their last game, against Rajasthan Royals. Otherwise, they will finish on 12 points and be knocked out as at least four teams – Sunrisers, Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders and Royals – will have 14 or more.

  • The qualification cut-off will surely move up to 14, which means Mumbai and Kings XI will need to win their last games to stay in contention.

  • Mumbai’s narrow win against Kings XI meant that their NRR actually dropped from 0.405 before the game to 0.384. Hence, RCB (NRR 0.218) could finish ahead of Mumbai on NRR if they win by big margins. For instance, if they win their last two games by 30 runs after scoring 180, and if Mumbai win their last game by only 10 runs, RCB will have a higher NRR even though both teams will finish with 14 points.

  • Kings XI’s only hope of qualifying would be to win their last game by a huge margin, and hope Mumbai and RCB lose theirs. Then, they could hope to take the fourth spot by going past Royals on NRR.

  • KKR will want at least one of Mumbai or RCB to lose their last game. Then they should make the cut even if they lose their last match, as their NRR is much better than that of Royals and Kings XI.

  • Royals will need to beat RCB, and hope that Mumbai lose to Delhi Daredevils. Then, their superior NRR compared to Kings XI should help them seal the last playoff spot even if Kings XI beat CSK.

If Royal Challengers lose:

  • They will be very close to elimination, but if they lose narrowly, and then win big against Royals, they could still take the fourth spot if both Kings XI and Mumbai go down. For instance, if RCB lose by five runs chasing 180 against Sunrisers, then beat Royals by 30 runs, and Mumbai lose to Daredevils by 25, then RCB will have a marginally better run rate than Mumbai, with both teams on 12 points.

  • Mumbai will go through if they beat Daredevils. Even if they lose, they will go through assuming Kings XI and Royals lose, and if they stay ahead of RCB on NRR (see above).

  • KKR would almost certainly be through unless all of the following happens: Mumbai win, KKR lose by a huge margin, and Royals/Kings XI win big to go past them on NRR. For example, for Royals to go past KKR on net run-rate, they will have to win by about 45 runs, and hope that KKR lose by about 30.

  • The above scenario aside, Royals’ best chance would be to beat RCB and hope that Mumbai lose. Then, their NRR should keep them ahead of Kings XI, unless Kings XI post a huge win against CSK.

  • Kings XI’s best bet would be to hope for Mumbai to lose, and for RCB to beat Royals. Then they will qualify with 14 points if they beat CSK, without net run-rate coming into play as Mumbai, Royals and RCB will all finish on 12.

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