IPL 2011 May 16, 2011

Closing in on the semi-finalists

A look at what the teams need to do to make it to the final four of IPL 2011

With only nine matches left before the knockout stage of IPL 2011, things are slightly clearer about which teams are likely to make the cut, and which ones have missed out completely. However, Mumbai Indians' unexpected loss of form and Kings XI Punjab's resurgence have opened up a few possibilities that seemed extremely unlikely last week. After 61 games, Royal Challengers Bangalore are the only team sure of qualification, while Rajasthan Royals, Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils are the ones that have been eliminated. A look at where the other teams stand, and what needs to happen for them to qualify:

Chennai Super Kings have jumped to second spot with 16 points, and though they aren't completely certain of a place in the last four, they're very well placed because of their excellent net run-rate of 0.544. The only team that can eliminate them are Punjab, whose NRR is languishing at -0.183. Even if Punjab win their last two games by 40 runs and if Chennai lose theirs by the same margin, Chennai's NRR will still be 0.01 ahead.

Mumbai Indians were the runaway leaders through the first two-thirds of the tournament, but two losses in a row have made their case trickier than most would have expected. The 87 all out against Punjab has also adversely affected their NRR, pushing them below Chennai to third place. Given that Mumbai's last game is against Kolkata at Eden Gardens, their best chance to seal their case will be their next match, when they play beleaguered Rajasthan at home.

However, if Mumbai lose both their matches their qualification could depend on run rates. For that to happen, Punjab will need to win both their matches, and Kolkata will require at least one win out of two. If Mumbai lose both their games by 30 runs chasing 160, and if Punjab win their games by 20 runs, then Punjab will sneak ahead by 0.001. If the margins aren't so convincing, Mumbai will scrape through even if they lose their last two.

Kolkata Knight Riders are currently in fourth place, and they need to win at least one of their last two matches to make their position fairly secure. It helps that their NRR is a healthy 0.403, which is much better than Punjab's.

However, if Kolkata lose both their games, they could be under threat from three teams - Punjab, Pune Warriors and Kochi Tuskers Kerala. Of those three teams, Kochi's chances are the weakest, since they have a NRR of -0.186 with only one game to go. Pune, though, could go past Kolkata if they win their last three and if Kolkata lose two (see Pune's case below).

Kings XI Punjab have made a late resurgence, winning three on the trot to suddenly revive their campaign. Given their poor NRR of -0.183, though, they'll almost certainly need wins in their last two games to stand a chance of making the cut. Even then, they'll need other results to go their way, for if Kolkata win their last two, and if Mumbai and Chennai win a game each, even 16 points won't be enough for Punjab.

Pune Warriors are the only side who have three matches to play, and if they make the best use of those chances, they could well come into the reckoning. If, for instance, Pune win all three, they'll finish with 14 points, which will give them a chance if Kolkata lose their last two and if Punjab don't win both their games.

Pune's case is also strengthened by their relatively strong NRR: it's currently -0.003, which is pretty good for a team with seven defeats and only four wins. For simplicity's sake, let's assume they win each of their last three games by 20 runs after scoring 160, and Kolkata similarly lose their last two by 20 - then Punjab's NRR will be 0.225 and Kolkata's 0.185. Punjab's current NRR is -0.183, and if they win a game and lose one (to get to 14 points), their NRR is unlikely to get anywhere near those of Pune or Kolkata.

Kochi Tuskers Kerala have a mathematical chance of making the top four, but their NRR is much worse than Kolkata's, the only team they can topple. Their only chance is if they win their last game by a huge margin, and if Kolkata lose both their matches convincingly: a margin of about 45 runs in each of those matches will push Kochi marginally ahead of Kolkata, but if the margins aren't so substantial Kochi's game against Chennai will be their last one in IPL 2011.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jiten on May 18, 2011, 3:21 GMT

    What did I say?? My prediction has come true!! Gilly is back in the form... And what an innings that was from Gilly yesterday! he made Gayle look like a baby in front of him. Whether Punjab makes it to the play off or not, they have already impressed with their fight back. Gilly you champ...last year Deccan and this year Punjab..both in the same situations...both fought back in last matches, Deccan made it to the semis last season...Let's see if Punjab can do it or not!!!

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2011, 17:27 GMT

    @Adhi Narayanan: hey buddy without luck chennai is nothing(i have stats to prove this)

  • Sathish on May 17, 2011, 17:09 GMT

    @Adhi Narayanan: It is not that the number of wins required to 'qualify' for knock out stages has increased because of increase in the number of teams. The number of league matches for a team still remains the same. It is 14 in all editions. The thing is that, it depends on "how well the teams perform". If many teams perform bad - as did Deccan, Pune, RR, and Delhi this time - the number of wins required to 'qualify' will go up. In the last edition, 7 out of 8 teams did well. This time 4 teams have been knocked out with some 7-8 matches to go.

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2011, 14:34 GMT

    look basically with such low run-rate kochi cannt enter because they have only 1 match in hand & that is against te CSKs. if CSK win they enter the play-offs, kochi have to register an outright victory of around 50-60 runs to win it

    punjab have to win both but their next challange is whether & RCB, if it ends in an NR, then punjab will have an chance of making it & RCB will have an 2 point lead

    mumbai next plays RR who are without Warne, they are favourites. KKR next plays Pune in mumbai so no home pressure to KKR after pune secured Ganguly.

    so its clear, RCB, CSK, MI & KKR are play-off teams but intrestingly RCB & CSK have an match before the play-offs it will help in deciding the 1st 2 places & after that game immediately KKR will play MI. so till the last day its difficult to announce which team will finsh 1st or 4th(if RCB losses to KXIP, MI wins over RR, KKR wins over PWI & CSK wins over KTK)

  • Prashant on May 17, 2011, 13:50 GMT

    I hope KKR don't make it to the semis. That way, they'll at least be remembered as the team that has never made it past the group stages. :)

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2011, 12:34 GMT

    kkr will not go to semi finals

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    in the previous ipls 7 was the required number of wins for a team to qualify coupled witha good nrr...but this year due to more teams that number has risen to 8 or 9. anyway csk has the best chance of winning ipl this year,many weaknesses of other teams hav been exposed and csk has min or no weaknesses.like mumbai n punjab are unpredictable,without gale banglore is nothing(i hav stats to prove this)even though they r strong on paper n kkr are slow starters and they fail to catch up in the death overs

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2011, 11:50 GMT

    Interesting. RCB, CSK and MI are almost there. At best, the competition is between KXIP, KKR and MI for the third and fourth spot. RCB's success has been synonymous to Gayle's, however, they are a very good team. Good players and in-form Gayle, hence strong contenders for the title. CSK have played well as a team, and add Dhoni's captaincy prowess to that, and they stand a very good chance to retain the title. MI have either dominated clinically, or have just been outplayed, hence been very mercurial. Not to forget that they haven't even come close to achieving their potential. Captaincy is the great SRT's weakness, but honestly, if their individuals are doing well, they are invincible. MI is probably the strongest team on the paper, but cricket - T20, especially - isn't played on paper. KKR have what it takes to lift the title, but haven't used their resources properly. Probably, also because they are a new team.

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2011, 10:30 GMT

    @ Abhishek Chakraborty: Dream on mate

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2011, 9:47 GMT

    CSK can win this year also, Ashwin and Jakathi can be deadly in crucial situations. The depth in the batting line-up is also phenomenal. Dhoni knows best when to use whose bowling, he is a masterful captain.

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