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As we go into the last week of the league games of IPL 2013, seven teams have a mathematical chance of making the last four. Here's what each of those teams needs to do
May 13, 2013
This piece was written before the match on May 13, between Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Chennai Super Kings
Remaining matches: Delhi Daredevils (home), Royal Challengers Bangalore (away)
Chennai Super Kings have been on top of the pack for a while in this tournament, but their comprehensive defeat to Rajasthan Royals means they're no longer clear leaders. One win, though, is all they need to be sure of a place in the last four.
However, if they lose both their matches, Super Kings' passage to the next stage might not be so straightforward. If, for instance, Sunrisers Hyderabad win all their remaining matches and Mumbai Indians win two out of three, both these teams will finish on 22. If Royal Challengers win both as well, then three teams - Super Kings, Royal Challengers and Rajasthan Royals - will be level on 20 points, with only two of them qualifying to the next stage. With all three teams closely bunched together in terms of net run rates, any two could then make the cut.
Through most of the league stage, it seemed almost certain that Super Kings would finish in the top two. However, that's no longer a forgone conclusion: only if they win both their matches will they be certain of a top two finish, for with Royals playing Mumbai Indians on Tuesday, only one of those teams can finish on 24. Super Kings can also finish in the top two with 22 points if other results go their way.
Remaining matches: Mumbai Indians (away), Sunrisers Hyderabad (away)
Their win against Super Kings has propelled them to 20 points, but they aren't quite in the knockouts yet. If Sunrisers win all their remaining matches, Mumbai Indians win two out three, and Super Kings beat Delhi Daredevils, then three teams will be on 22. If Royal Challengers win both their games and Rajasthan Royals lose theirs, then these two teams will both be on 20, with only one spot up for grabs. Their NRRs are currently very close, and if Royals lose two then their rate could easily slip below Royal Challengers'. (Because the teams at the bottom of the table have lost so many matches this season, there's thus a possibility that even ten wins might not be enough for a team to qualify.)
One win, though, will make them a certainty for the last four, and a possible contender for the top two slots. Even 20 points will be enough for them to qualify without NRR coming into play if other results go their way: if, for example, Royal Challengers don't win both their remaining games, they'll definitely finish with less than 20, giving Royals a clear path to the knockout stages.
Remaining matches: Sunrisers Hyderabad (home), Rajasthan Royals (home), Kings XI Punjab (away - Dharamsala)
Mumbai Indians are one of three teams which haven't yet lost a home game, and with two of their three remaining games at the Wankhede Stadium, they'll fancy their chances of not only finishing in the top four, but also among the top two.
Their worst-case scenario is three defeats, which'll keep them at 18. For them to qualify with 18, they'll want other results to go their way. If, for example, Royal Challengers lose their last two, they'll remain at 16 and Mumbai Indians will certainly qualify with 18, without NRR coming into play. If, on the other hand, they achieve their best-case scenario and win all their remaining games, they'll definitely finish among the top two. As with other teams, there's a possibility that 20 points might not be enough. However, their NRR is currently the best among all teams, which could be crucial if they finish level on points with others.
Remaining matches: Mumbai Indians (away), Rajasthan Royals (home), Kolkata Knight Riders (home)
Sunrisers have been the surprise packet of the tournament, and they're far from done - they're level on points with Royal Challengers with a game in hand. If they achieve the difficult task of beating Mumbai Indians in Mumbai, they'll move past Royal Challengers with 18. Even if they lose that one, Sunrisers will still be in the hunt, especially given they have two home games to follow.
Wins in each of their three remaining games will definitely be enough for Sunrisers, and even two wins should do the trick, though there could be scenarios with five teams on 20 or more points. Though they've won plenty of games, Sunrisers' NRR is clearly the worst among the top teams, which could be a possible drawback if it becomes the deciding factor. That's the reason 16 points will almost certainly not be enough for them.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Remaining matches: Kings XI Punjab (home), Chennai Super Kings (home)
The defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders has pushed them back a bit, but the advantage for Royal Challengers is that both their remaining games are at home, though one of them is against the current leaders. Wins in both their matches should put them in a good position to qualify, but they won't be entirely safe, since five teams can still end with 20 or more points. However, if net run rates come into play, Royal Challengers are comfortably placed since they're well ahead of Sunrisers Hyderabad, and the rate could go up further if they win their last two.
On the other hand, they might have a chance even with two defeats, but for that to happen Sunrisers will have to lose their remaining matches too, so that they stay on 16. In such a case there's a possibility that three, or even four teams - the two mentioned, plus Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab - could be tied on 16 and fighting for the last spot.
If Royal Challengers win one of their remaining two, they'll still be in the mix if other results go their way. If, for example, Sunrisers win no more than one of their remaining games, then Royal Challengers could be better placed given their superior NRR at the moment.
Kings XI Punjab
Remaining matches: Royal Challengers Bangalore (away), Delhi Daredevils (home - Dharamsala), Mumbai Indians (home - Dharamsala)
Despite losing their last two matches, Kings XI Punjab still have an outside chance of making the cut, but only if several results go their way. First of all, they'll have to win all their matches and finish on 16. Since three teams have already gone beyond 16, Kings XI's best case is for those three to win most of their games, and for Sunrisers and Royal Challengers to lose all their remaining matches. Then, up to four teams could be level on 16 points and fighting for a single spot. Obviously Kings XI will also have to win by fairly handsome margins, given that their NRR is currently a not-so-impressive -0.018.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Remaining matches: Pune Warriors (home - Ranchi), Sunrisers Hyderabad (away)
The win against Royal Challengers has kept Knight Riders in the hunt, but for them to progress several results will have to go their way. Like Kings XI, they'll need to win their remaining matches and finish on 16, and then hope that neither of Royal Challengers or Sunrisers win any of their matches. If all those results go their way, then Knight Riders could be in a three- or four-way tie on 16 points, fighting for the last spot on net run rates.
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on TwitterFeeds: S Rajesh
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