IPL 2021 playoffs race – Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders in tussle for fourth spot

Mumbai Indians’ comprehensive win against Rajasthan Royals means the Royals are pretty much out of the race, while the battle for fourth place is now largely between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai. Here is a look at how the teams stack up going into the last three days of the league stage.

Kolkata Knight Riders
Matches played: 13, Points: 12, NRR: 0.294, Remaining game: vs Rajasthan Royals

Despite Mumbai’s impressive win, Knight Riders are still far ahead on net run rate. That means a win – by any margin – should still be enough for Knight Riders to make it to the playoffs. Even if they win by just a run, Mumbai will have to win by around 87 runs to go past them on net run rate.

If Knight Riders lose, they will have to hope that Sunrisers get the better of Mumbai, in which case Knight Riders should still go through on net run rate.

The disadvantage for Knight Riders, though, is that they travel from Dubai to Sharjah for their last game, while the Royals will stay on for their second successive game in conditions which have proved to be tough for batting, and especially difficult for teams to adapt to. Knight Riders have played only once here this season, beating Delhi Capitals by three wickets on September 28.

Mumbai Indians
Matches played: 13, Points: 13, NRR: -0.048, Remaining game: Sunrisers Hyderabad

Despite the comprehensive win against Royals, Mumbai still have some work to do to qualify. The most straightforward way for them to make the cut will be if they win their last game after Royals have beaten Knight Riders. In that case, net run rates will not come into play.

However, if Knight Riders win, Mumbai will need a display similar to the one they put forth against Royals, to have any chance. Even if Knight Riders win by a win, Mumbai will need to win by around 87 runs to go past their net run rate. And if Mumbai lose even by a run, Knight Riders will have to lose by around 85 for Mumbai’s net run rate to be better than that of Knight Riders.

Rajasthan Royals
Matches played: 13, Points: 10, NRR: -0.337, Remaining game: Kolkata Knight Riders

Royals’ utterly shambolic display against Mumbai means they have pretty much given up whatever little chance they had of qualifying. Even if they beat Knight Riders and Mumbai lose to Sunrisers, their net run rate of -0.737 is too dire at this late stage of the competition.

For those who are still interested, Royals need to beat Knight Riders by around 125 runs to go past their NRR, and they also need Mumbai to lose by around 40 runs to ensure their NRR stays below that of Royals. In short, Royals can start planning for the 2022 season.

Punjab Kings
Matches played: 13, Points: 10, NRR: -0.241, Remaining game: vs Chennai Super Kings

Kings are all but out of the race. They can only get to 12, which means they will have to lift their net run rate above that of Knight Riders to stand a chance. For them to qualify, they will have to win their last match, against table-toppers Super Kings, hope that Knight Riders lose heavily against Royals, and also that Mumbai don’t beat Sunrisers.

The net run rate odds are stacked against them: if, for instance, Kings win by 70 runs and Knight Riders lose by the same margin, Kings will edge ahead with an net run rate of 0.034, to the Knight Riders’ 0.01.

Meanwhile, at the top of the table, the fight is to finish among the top two, with three teams vying for those couple of slots.

Delhi Capitals
Matches played: 13, Points: 20, NRR: 0.526, Remaining game: Royal Challengers Bangalore

With 20 points in their kitty Delhi Capitals are pretty much assured of a top-two finish. For them to drop to third, Royal Challengers will have to win their last two by huge margins: if they beat Sunrisers by 50 runs and Capitals by 60 (after scoring 160), they’ll sneak ahead of Capitals. Then, if Super Kings win their last game and get to 20, Capitals will fall to third place.

Chennai Super Kings
Matches played: 13, Points: 18, NRR: 0.739, Remaining game: Punjab Kings

Super Kings’ net run rate of 0.739 is still the best among all teams, but their defeat against Capitals has pushed them down to second. They could drop further to third if they lose their last game against Punjab Kings, and if Royal Challengers win both their remaining games and finish on 20. However, if it comes down to net run rate, Super Kings will stay in front as they are far ahead of Royal Challengers’ -0.157.

Royal Challengers Bangalore
Matches played: 12, Points: 16, NRR: -0.157, Remaining games: vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, Delhi Capitals

Royal Challengers have already qualified, but to finish among the top two they will need to win both their matches, and hope that Super Kings lose their last game. If all three teams finish with 20, getting past one of them on net run rate is extremely unlikely: as mentioned above, they will have to beat Sunrisers by 50 runs and Capitals by 60, to finish ahead of Capitals on net run rate.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats

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