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IPL 2020 scenarios: Mumbai safe, but six teams battle for three playoff spots

Capitals, RCB alive despite slip-up, Kings XI need to win, KKR need to also improve NRR

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
With two league games each left in IPL 2020, it's still all up for grabs for everyone but CSK  •  BCCI

With two league games each left in IPL 2020, it's still all up for grabs for everyone but CSK  •  BCCI

With only two matches left for each team in the league stage of IPL 2020, there is still plenty of uncertainty over which four teams will make the playoffs. The Mumbai Indians are all but through, which leaves six teams - only the Chennai Super Kings are out of contention - fighting for three spots. Here is a look at how each of the top seven teams are placed, starting with the Kolkata Knight Riders, who have a game coming up on Thursday.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Played 12, Points 12, NRR -0.479
Remaining matches: v CSK, Royals
The Kolkata Knight Riders have two games left against the bottom two teams, starting with one against the Chennai Super Kings on Thursday. Two wins will take them to 16, which will give them a shot at the last four. But their problem is their net run rate (NRR) of -0.479, which is the worst among the five teams that could reach 16 points.
The Delhi Capitals' comprehensive defeat to the Sunrisers Hyderabad has helped the Knight Riders close the gap between their NRRs, but there is still some distance between them and the four teams above them. The Kings XI Punjab are the closest, but their NRR will improve too if they win their remaining two games and reach 16.
So here's what the Knight Riders should hope for: win both games - by reasonable margins if possible - and then pray that one of those four teams don't reach 16. Even if they lose to the Super Kings on Thursday, the Knight Riders can still make it with 14 points without NRR coming into play, if several other results go their way. Should it, however, come down to NRR, the Knight Riders will almost certainly lose out.
Mumbai Indians: Played 12, Points 16, NRR 1.186
Remaining matches: v RCB, Capitals, Sunrisers
Thanks to their excellent NRR, the Mumbai Indians are all but through to the playoffs. It's almost certain that they will also finish in the top two. That is because only one of the Capitals or the Royal Challengers can finish on 18, and in a battle among teams tied on 16, Mumbai are too far ahead on NRR.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Played 12, Points 14, NRR 0.048
Remaining matches: vs Sunrisers, Capitals
Despite Wednesday's defeat to Mumbai, the Royal Challengers are still reasonably placed to finish in the top four if they win one of their two remaining matches. However, if they lose both and stay on 14, then they will need several other results going their way to qualify.
Delhi Capitals: Played 12, Points 14, NRR 0.030
Remaining matches: vs Mumbai, RCB
Their huge defeat to the Sunrisers has made their qualification task far tougher and, to add to that, their last two games are against the top two teams. A win in one of their two remaining games should still see them reasonably placed for qualification, but they can't afford another meltdown like the one against the Sunrisers.
If, for instance, they win a game by five runs and lose the other by 60, and if the Knight Riders win their last two by an aggregate margin (the sum of the margins of their two wins) of 70 runs, then the Capitals will fall behind the Knight Riders on NRR.
The Capitals can qualify even with 14 points without NRR coming into play, but for that to happen, several other results will need to go their way.
Kings XI Punjab: Played 12, Points 12, NRR -0.049
Remaining matches: v Royals, CSK
The Kings XI Punjab are on a five-match winning streak, but they will want to extend that to seven and secure their place in the playoffs. Thanks to a reasonable NRR of -0.049 - and the Knight Riders' poor NRR - they will be in an excellent position to qualify if they finish on 16.
Even if they win their last two games by the extremely narrow margin of one run each, the Knight Riders will have to win their two remaining matches by an aggregate run margin of around 105 runs to go ahead of the Kings XI on NRR.
If the Kings XI lose one of their matches and finish on 14, they can still make the playoffs without NRRs coming into play, but for that to happen several other results will have to go their way.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Played 12, Points 10, NRR 0.396
Remaining matches: v RCB, Mumbai
For the Sunrisers Hyderabad, the equation is simple: win their two remaining games, and hope that at least two of the five teams who can get to 16 don't reach there. Their NRR of 0.396 will stand them in good stead against all the teams that might finish on 14.
Mumbai beating the Royal Challengers was a good result for the Sunrisers (and for the other teams in the fray), because Mumbai are the only team ahead of the Sunrisers on NRR. That result means three places are still up for grabs.
Rajasthan Royals: Played 12, Points 10, NRR -0.505
Remaining matches: v Kings XI, KKR
Given the Rajasthan Royals' poor NRR of -0.505, they might struggle if that becomes the deciding factor (though their rate will improve with two wins). However, it is possible for them to qualify on 14 points without NRR coming into play, if other results go their way - that includes the Kings XI losing both their remaining matches, the Sunrisers winning no more than one, and the Super Kings beating the Knight Riders. For all that to become relevant, though, the Royals will have to win their two games.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats