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Mumbai Indians almost assured of top-two finish

IPL 2017 - Scenarios for playoff spots, May 12, 2017 ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Going into the last week, it appeared the top four teams at that stage would be a shoo-in to duly take their places in the playoffs. However, thanks to some unexpected results in the last week - most notably Kings XI Punjab beating Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, and Rising Pune Supergiant losing to Delhi Daredevils - there is still plenty to play for, for the five teams that still have a shot at the top four slots. Mumbai Indians are assured a top-two slot, while Knight Riders are sure of a playoff berth, which leaves three teams fighting it out for two places.

Mumbai Indians

With Rising Pune losing to Daredevils, Mumbai Indians are pretty much assured a top-two finish. Even if they lose to Knight Riders, and Rising Pune beat Kings XI, the margins of those results have to be outlandish to ensure Mumbai Indians' net run rate drops below that of Rising Pune. For that to happen, each of those results will need to be in the vicinity of around 115 runs - if Mumbai Indians lose by such a margin and if Rising Pune win by that much, then Mumbai Indians will drop down to third. For all practical purposes, Mumbai Indians are assured of playing the first qualifier at their home fortress.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Knight Riders are certain to make the playoffs, even if they lose to Mumbai Indians and Kings XI beat Rising Pune. If that happens, and if Sunrisers finish on 17 by beating Gujarat Lions, then the team that will be eliminated will be Rising Pune, because of their poor net run rate (NRR). However, Knight Riders will want to finish in the top two, which will happen for sure if they win their last game; Rising Pune's NRR is too low for them to sneak past Knight Riders. Even if they lose, Knight Riders can finish in the top two if Sunrisers lose, and if Kings XI win by a not-too-huge margin.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

The washout against Royal Challengers Bangalore means Sunrisers are the odd ones out with an odd-numbered points tally, which means they are not caught up in the NRR rat race. If they win, they are through to the playoffs for sure; if they lose, they can still make it if Kings XI lose to Rising Pune. Sunrisers can finish in the top two if Knight Riders and Rising Pune both lose their last matches.

Rising Pune Supergiant

Rising Pune's defeat to Daredevils means they could still miss out on a playoff spot if they lose their last game, and if Sunrisers win theirs. Since their NRR (-0.083) is so poor, they are the team who will be knocked out if five teams finish on 16 or more points. If they win, and if Knight Riders lose to Mumbai Indians, then Rising Pune will finish second. However, since they are playing the last meaningful game of the league stage, they will know exactly what they are playing for: if Sunrisers win, then Rising Pune will need to win to make the playoffs; if Sunrisers lose and if Mumbai Indians beat Knight Riders, then Rising Pune will have a top-two spot to play for on Sunday, though a loss will still put them in the playoffs anyway as the fourth team.

Kings XI Punjab

After the defeat to Lions last Sunday, Kings XI were languishing on 10 points from 11 games, but two tough wins in the last week, and Rising Pune's botched-up chase in Delhi, has put Kings XI's fate in their own hands: beat Rising Pune and qualify for the last four regardless of other results. They could even finish in the top two, but that is an extremely long shot: for that to happen, Sunrisers will have to lose, and both Mumbai and Kings XI will have to win pretty convincingly. If, for instance, both teams win by around 55 runs, then Knight Riders' NRR will drop marginally below Kings XI's. However, given the position they were in less than a week ago, Kings XI will be happy to be in a position where their qualification chances now rest in their own hands.