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Scenarios – Nine games left, nine teams still in contention – who needs to do what?

With only nine matches left to play in the league stage of IPL 2023, just one team – Delhi Capitals – has been eliminated, and not one has confirmed qualification for the playoffs. Here is a lowdown on the qualification chances of each of the nine remaining teams.

Gujarat Titans

Played 12, Points 16, NRR 0.761
Rem mat: SRH (h), RCB (a)
Gujarat Titans have been leading the points table for a while now, but they haven’t quite sealed a spot in the playoffs yet. If they lose their last two games and other matches follow a particular pattern of results, then Chennai Super Kings and Lucknow Super Giants could finish on 17 points, and four teams – Titans, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Punjab Kings – could all be tied on 16, fighting for two spots. Titans are currently far ahead on net run rate (NRR), but that will drop if they lose two, and it could drop significantly if they lose by a huge margin (just ask Rajasthan Royals).

However, one win will confirm not just a place in the playoffs, but also a top-two finish, as Mumbai Indians is the only other team which can get to 18.

Chennai Super Kings

Played 13, Points 15, NRR 0.381
Rem mat: DC (a)
Super Kings’ loss to Knight Riders means they are not yet assured of qualification, and even if they win their last game – away against Delhi Capitals – they might still not finish among the top two, though they will be assured of qualifying for the playoffs. If they lose to Capitals then Super Kings could be knocked out, as five teams can potentially finish on more than 15 points. However, if other results go their way, then Super Kings could finish third without adding to their tally.

Mumbai Indians

Played 12, Points 14, NRR -0.117
Rem mat: LSG (a), SRH (h)
After a slow start, Mumbai Indians have come into their own and seem to be peaking at the right time with four wins in their last five. Wins in their last two matches will guarantee them a top-two finish. If they lose one and finish on 16 then they will be depending on other results to qualify: they could go through without NRRs coming into play, or they could get embroiled in an NRR battle for the final spot with two other teams. If they lose both, though, then qualification hopes will be extremely slim: three teams would already be on 15 or more points, and Mumbai Indians could be fighting for the fourth slot with as many as four teams and a poor NRR.

Lucknow Super Giants

Played 12, Points 13, NRR 0.309
Rem mat: MI (h), KKR (a)
Super Giants need to win their last two matches to be assured of the qualifying. If they lose one, they can still qualify without depending on NRRs, if other results fall in place. However, there is also a possibility of five other teams – Titans, Super Kings, Mumbai, Royal Challengers and Kings – all finishing on 16 or more points. If they lose both their matches, then Super Giants will be eliminated.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Played 12, Points 12, NRR 0.166
Rem mat: SRH (a), GT (h)
Royal Challengers’ stunning win against Rajasthan Royals has lifted them to fifth on the table, and boosted their NRR from -0.345 to 0.166. As mentioned earlier, 16 could still be a crowded place on the table, but Royal Challengers will definitely be in the mix, especially given that their NRR is now better than that of Mumbai Indians and Punjab Kings, two other teams who could finish on 16.

However, if Royal Challengers lose one of their two remaining games and stay on 14, then they will need several results to go their way to ensure that one spot is still available for a team on 14 points. If it comes to that, the NRR boost they got from their astonishing win against Royals could be the clincher.

Rajasthan Royals

Played 13, Points 12, NRR 0.140
Rem mat: PBKS (a)
Royals’ brutal hammering at the hands of Royal Challengers has caused their NRR to plummet from an impressive 0.633 to 0.140. They could still qualify, though, if they beat Punjab Kings in their last game, and if other results fall in their favour. Their best chance is if Royal Challengers, Super Giants and Punjab Kings lose their last two, and if Sunrisers lose at least one of their games against Titans and Mumbai Indians. Then, the fourth position will be a straight battle between Royals and Knight Riders, which Royals should win on NRR, even after the beating it has taken.

Punjab Kings

Played 12, Points 12, NRR -0.268
Rem mat: DC (h), RR (h)
Punjab Kings are one of six teams who could finish on 16 or more points. That means they are very much in contention for a top-four finish, but they might need some help from other teams, as well as relatively big margins of victories: their NRR is currently lower than that of all the other teams who could finish on 16 or more points.

If they lose a game, then they could be battling for one spot with as many as four teams. Their two remaining matches are at home, but in Dharamsala, not Mohali.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Played 13, Points 12, NRR -0.256
Rem mat: LSG (h)
Their victory against Super Kings keeps Knight Riders in the hunt, though there’s only a slim chance that they will finish among the top four with 14 points. For that to happen, they will have to win their last game – at home against Super Giants – and then hope that not more than three teams go beyond 14. One of the ways that could happen is if Super Giants lose their last two, and if Royal Challengers and Punjab Kings lose at least one of their remaining matches. Then, there could between two to four teams on 14 fighting for one spot, which will bring NRR into focus: Knight Riders’ is currently on -0.256, and they have only one game to improve that.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Played 11, Points 8, NRR -0.471
Rem mat: GT (a), RCB (h), MI (a)
Sunrisers are currently languishing in ninth place on eight points, but they are the only team with three games in hand. If they win all of them, they could still be in contention on 14 points if other results go their way. For instance, if Super Giants win their two remaining games, then Titans, Super Giants and Super Kings will all have more than 14 points, while Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings and Sunrisers could all finish on 14, fighting for one spot. On the other hand, if Super Giants lose their last two, then the fourth spot could be a battle among Sunrisers, Punjab Kings and Knight Riders. Either way, it will bring NRR into the equation, which means Sunrisers will have to focus on the margin of their wins as well, given that their NRR of -0.471 is currently the lowest among all teams in contention.

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