Finally, after the 48th match of the season on Wednesday, a team will reach 16 points when the Mumbai Indians play the Royal Challengers Bangalore - both are currently on 14. This is most matches it has taken the first team to reach 16 points in an eight-team IPL season; the previous record was 46 matches, in 2016. Here is a look at what a win or a loss on Wednesday will mean to the two teams.
Mumbai: Played 11, Points 14, NRR 1.252
Remaining matches: vs Royal Challengers (Oct 28), Delhi Capitals (Oct 31) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (Nov 3)
If they win
Mumbai's fantastic net run rate of 1.252 means they will almost certainly be through to the playoffs if they win. That is because only five teams can get to 16 points, and one of them is the Kolkata Knight Riders, who have a terrible NRR of -0.479.
Just how far ahead Mumbai's NRR is, will be clear from this example. Assume the following:
- Mumbai beat Royal Challengers by one run
- They lose their last two by an aggregate run margin of 180 runs (that is, the margins of the two losses add up to 180 runs)
- The Knight Riders win their last two by an aggregate margin of 180
Even if these improbable results happen, Mumbai will still have an NRR of around 0.32, compared to 0.25 for the Knight Riders. Thus, a win will clearly be enough for playoff qualification, though Mumbai will be aiming for much more than that.
If they lose
Even if Mumbai lose to the Royal Challengers, they will qualify if they win one of their last two games. However, in the unlikely scenario that they lose all three, then other results will come into play. The Delhi Capitals, the Royal Challengers, the Knight Riders and the Kings XI Punjab can all reach 16 and eliminate Mumbai.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Played 11, Points 14, NRR 0.092
Remaining matches: vs Mumbai (Oct 28), Sunrisers (Oct 31), Capitals (Nov 2)
If they win
The Capitals' crushing defeat on Tuesday has put the Royal Challengers in second place, but their NRR of 0.092 is some distance behind Mumbai's. Even so, a win on Wednesday and 16 points will still leave them well-placed for the playoffs. Let us do a similar simulation of results as we did for Mumbai:
- The Royal Challengers beat Mumbai by five runs
- They lose their next two by an aggregate margin of 70 runs
- The Knight Riders win their last two by the same aggregate margin of 70 runs
If these results happen, then the Knight Riders will sneak ahead on NRR. It is not quite as far-fetched as Mumbai's scenario, but it will still require several things to go wrong for the Royal Challengers to slip below the Knight Riders if they win on Wednesday and reach 16 points.
If they lose
As long as they keep the defeat margin within reasonable limits and win one of their remaining matches, the Royal Challengers will have a good chance of making the playoffs. If they lose all three, though, then things will get tough as seven teams can still potentially make it to 14 points.
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats