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The race for the last two playoff spots

Krunal Pandya checks if he's made his ground BCCI

We have just a week more for the end of the round-robin stage of IPL 2019, and only two teams - Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals - are assured of a place in the playoffs. Of the six other teams, four have a realistic shot at clinching the final two spots, one other is not quite out yet, while the final team is in the fray only mathematically.

Four-way race for the last-four spots

Mumbai Indians
Played 12, Points 14, NRR 0.347
Remaining matches: v Sunrisers Hyderabad (home), v Kolkata Knight Riders (home)

Mumbai Indians are reasonably well placed with 14 points and a healthy net run-rate (NRR); in addition, their last two games are at home. A win in either of the two games will be enough to put them into the last four. Even if they lose both, they will still have a chance to qualify if they lose narrowly and their NRR, which is currently 0.347, stays above teams that are currently in the bottom four.

Mumbai will, however, have lofty ambitions - if they win their last two games, and depending on how other results go, they could be among the top two teams.

Sunrisers Hyderabad
Played 12, Points 12, NRR 0.709
Remaining matches: v Mumbai Indians (away), v Royal Challengers Bangalore (away)

Their win against Kings XI - a handsome one at that - has done their chances of qualification a world of good. With this win, they are one of the four teams left that can still finish on 16 or more points, which would mean outright qualification for them on points. But if they do lose one of their two remaining games, their healthy NRR of 0.709 gives them a big advantage over other teams that could tie with them on 14 points.

Kolkata Knight Riders
Played 12, Points 10, NRR 0.100
Remaining matches: v Kings XI Punjab (away), v Mumbai Indians (away)

The win against Mumbai Indians means Kolkata Knight Riders are still in the hunt for the playoffs. The maximum they can finish with is 14, but even that might not be sufficient, as there is a possibility of as many as six teams finishing on 14 or more. That means not only do they need to win, but also win with healthy margins to push up their NRR, which is currently below those of Sunrisers and Mumbai.

Knight Riders' next match, against Kings XI, is virtually a must-win, though. A defeat there could see them slip behind Kings XI in the fight for fourth spot.

Kings XI Punjab
Played 12, Points 10, NRR -0.296
Remaining matches: v Kolkata Knight Riders (home), v Chennai Super Kings (home)

Kings XI have not done their chances of qualifying for the playoffs any favours with their loss against Sunrisers. Kings XI will have to win their remaining two games and secure 14 points to retain any realistic chances of qualifying. They do have an outside chance of qualifying straight on points (without depending on their very poor NRR), but for that to happen a few results have to go their way. Sunrisers have to lose both their remaining two matches - against Mumbai and Royal Challengers Bangalore - and Rajasthan Royals have to lose at least one of their remaining two - against Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers. These results will ensure that none of the other teams on 12 or fewer points gets to 14.

Qualification on 14 points based on NRR looks very difficult for them given their poor NRR of -0.296. They'll hope they are not tied on 14 points with Sunrisers or Mumbai as they are going to lose out on those NRR battles. Their best chance would be to tie with Rajasthan Royals on 14 points since Royals' NRR of -0.321 is worse than theirs currently.

Outsiders, but not quite out yet

Rajasthan Royals
Played 12, Points 10, NRR -0.321
Remaining matches: v Royal Challengers (away), v Capitals (away)

Royals have plenty to do going into the last week, but the win against Sunrisers has given them a new lease of life. If they win both their two remaining matches - both are away games, though, and their side is significantly depleted following the departure of some of their overseas stars - they could make the cut even without NRRs coming into play, as there could be scenarios where four teams finish with 12 or fewer points. If they lose one, though, they will be out, given their poor NRR.

Mathematically in, practically out

Royal Challengers Bangalore
Played 12, Points 8, NRR -0.694
Remaining matches: v Rajasthan Royals (home), v Sunrisers Hyderabad (home)

The defeat against Capitals means Royal Challengers are almost certainly out of IPL 2019. The maximum they can finish on is 12 points, and while that is iffy enough, what makes it worse for them is their NRR of -0.694. Given the way the tournament has shaped up, it is possible that teams with 12 points could still be in contention for the last playoff spot. But their poor NRR has laid to rest any practical chances of their qualifying for the final four this year.

Looking for a top-two finish

Delhi Capitals
Played 12, Points 16, NRR 0.233
Remaining matches: v Chennai Super Kings (away), v Rajasthan Royals (home)

Having already qualified for the playoffs, Capitals' next target will be to finish in the top two. If they win their last two matches, they will achieve that goal, but if they lose one, things could get tricky. They have a better NRR than Super Kings, which will come in handy if the two teams have to battle for one place, but Mumbai are currently ahead, at 0.347 (though the gap is relatively small, and Capitals can go ahead on NRR if the results go their way).

Even if they lose their two remaining games and finish on 16, Capitals could still make the top two if Mumbai lose both, and if other results go favourably for them.

Chennai Super Kings
Played 12, Points 16, NRR -0.113
Remaining matches: v Delhi Capitals (home), v Kings XI Punjab (away)

They were the first to qualify with 16 points, but by no means are they assured of a top-two spot, especially given their poor NRR. Even with 18 points, they may not be in the top two as Capitals and Mumbai could both finish on 18 or more points, with better NRRs.

Winning Wednesday's game against Capitals would be a good way to go, though even that result will not put a seal on the matter. However, if Super Kings win either of their last two matches and Mumbai lose one of theirs, then Super Kings are assured of finishing second at least.