IPL 2021 playoff qualification: KKR, RR and MI battle for 4th spot


IPL 2021 playoff qualification: KKR, RR and MI battle for 4th spot

Every season of the Indian Premier League finds a way to head towards an exciting finish. A culmination of profuse sweating, nail biting, looking above the shoulder, peeking elsewhere and a bit of the divine calling. IPL 2021 has been no different. While at the midway break between the two phases, it seemed as though certain teams would run far away from the chasing pack, fate has once again conspired – for some, inspired – to make the final week an all too familiar and always fascinating race to the finish.

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There are three teams, in Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, vying for the one spot. All of them seeking to win their remaining games and some are also calling upon for some intervention to get that coveted Q beside their name and stay back in the UAE for a few extra days. And well, perhaps even have silverware to show for it.

Momentum is an underrated and quizzically powerful facet of the game. The IPL has seen late surges before that culminate in glory. And the three teams aiming for a shot at the eliminator are all former champions. In fact, two among the three already qualified teams are yet to win the trophy. Only Chennai Super Kings among Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals are previous winners of the tournament.

Thus, before the final set of games begin, here are the IPL 2021 playoff qualification scenarios for KKR, RR and MI.

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IPL 2021 playoff scenario – Rajasthan Royals

Kartik Tyagi
Kartik Tyagi’s heroics in IPL 2021 will be long remembered if RR makes it to the playoffs

The Halla Bol brigade have set the cat among the pigeons following a jaw dropping chase against CSK in their previous game. Such was the ferocity with which the pink and blue jersey donning team went after 190 runs, CSK skipper MS Dhoni admitted perhaps 250 would have been a par total.

Following the win, RR now sit on 10 points after 12 games with an inferior net run rate of -0.337.  However, their destiny is in their own hands and that net run rate will not come into the picture if they win their remaining two games – against MI and KKR. Thus, RR can knock out the two competitors that are fighting for the same position.

The Royals can still qualify with one victory and a defeat, but that scenario is as undesirable for them as complicated. If they are to qualify on 12 points, RR would have to defeat KKR anyway, meaning they would depend on SunRisers Hyderabad defeating Mumbai Indians after having themselves lost to Rohit Sharma’s team.

As for the team’s form, captain Sanju Samson has been consistent and Yashasvi Jaiswal is ever improving. They have destructive batters in Evin Lewis and Liam Livingstone, with the latter due a desert storm. Shivam Dubey, belatedly unveiled against CSK, raised an instant hurricane and that bodes well for RR heading into the game leg of IPL 2021.

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IPL 2021 playoff scenario – Mumbai Indians

Mumbai Indians
Mumbai Indians need some divine intervention if they are to qualify for the IPL 2021 playoffs

Mumbai Indians were always known to be slow starters. And perhaps having two starts to one season is becoming a bridge too far for them. Yet, they are still in the race for the top four. However, they have been a shadow of their old selves and is looking pale in comparison to the team that won three titles in the last four seasons.

And their destiny is not in their own hands either. On 10 points after 12 games, MI must win both their matches to finish on 14 and give themselves a realistic chance of qualifying. If they do finish on 14 points, it would mean RR can finish on 12 points at best and thus, they would be looking at KKR who have a significantly greater net run rate than Mumbai’s -0.453. Thus, if both teams finish on 14 points, RR would finish on 10 and KKR would most likely qualify on the basis of their positive net run rate.

But KKR may end up on 12 points if RR wins against them and loses against MI. In that case, MI must still defeat SRH to reach 14 points to topple KKR and even RR.

IPL 2021 playoff scenario – Kolkata Knight Riders

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Sunrisers Hyderabad Live Stream
Kolkata Knight Riders need captain Eoin Morgan to come into form heading into the back end of the tournament

Theirs is the easiest path through to the final four. Similar to RR, they would not need to look anywhere if they win their solitary game remaining as they have a net run rate of +0.294. However, compared to RR who have two matches to win, KKR have only one remaining bout wherein a victory by any margin guarantees them a date on 11th October 2021 at Sharjah.

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A loss, however, does not mean they exit the tournament. But for them to qualify with a loss, it must mean that RR lose to MI and then Mumbai lose against SRH. Once again, this is an extremely undesirable and complicated scenario for Shubman Gill and team.

KKR, though, will be confident for the latter scenario does not arise. They have been among the most impressive teams in this phase of the IPL, winning four of the six games and moving to 12 points from 13 matches. They came into the second phase of IPL 2021 on four points after seven games and the turnaround hence, has been a beautiful watch for their fans.

In fact, the two games they lost were by the barest of margins – a last ball heartbreak against CSK and then a dropped catch at the boundary leading to a six in the last over against Punjab who looked they were bottling a chase once again.

IPL 2021 playoff scenario – 12 points each

Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Punjab Kings Live Stream
Punjab Kings are still in with an outside chance to qualify for the IPL 2021 playoffs

It is clear now that since RR plays both KKR and MI, all three teams cannot reach 14 points. KKR and MI can both finish on 14 points, which would mean KKR will likely qualify given their massive net run rate advantage. KKR and MI finishing on 14 points would mean RR have lost both games and cannot qualify.

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If RR finishes on 14 points, they will qualify as it would mean KKR have lost their last game and MI have lost at least one of their final two games.

However, a situation is possible wherein all three teams finish on 12 points and net run rate comes into play. For that to happen, KKR must lose their last game to RR taking them to 12 points. Before that, MI must defeat RR to reach 12 points. And finally, SRH wins against Mumbai to keep them stationed on 12 points.

In such a case, even Punjab Kings would fancy their chances as they can get to 12 points if they win their final game against CSK, who themselves are yet to seal their place in the top two. In case all four teams, or any three finish on 12, KKR would still be the favourite to qualify given their net run rate. Punjab are ahead of RR and MI in that regard with a net run rate of -0.241.

Whatever eventually happens, an exciting finish to IPL 2021 awaits!

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