Matches (13)
ENG v PAK (1)
T20WC Warm-up (5)
Vitality Blast (5)
CE Cup (2)

IPL playoffs race: Mumbai, Knight Riders in tussle for fourth spot

Royals, Kings all but out; Super Kings, Capitals assured of top two finish

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
05-Oct-2021 • Updated on 07-Oct-2021
An intense pre-match huddle as Mumbai face a must-win game, Rajasthan Royals vs Mumbai Indians, IPL 2021, Sharjah, October 5, 2021

Mumbai Indians have breathed life into their flagging campaign  •  BCCI

Mumbai Indians' comprehensive win against Rajasthan Royals means the Royals are pretty much out of the race, while the battle for fourth place is now largely between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai.
Also, Sunrisers Hyderabad's tight win against Royal Challengers Bangalore means that Delhi Capitals are assured of a top-two finish, while Chennai Super Kings are pretty much there too.
Here is a look at how the teams are placed with just four games to go in the league stage.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Matches played: 13, Points: 12, NRR: 0.294, Remaining game: vs Rajasthan Royals
Despite Mumbai's impressive win, Knight Riders are still far ahead on net run rate. That means a win - by any margin - should still be enough for Knight Riders to make it to the playoffs. Even if they win by just a run, Mumbai will have to win by around 87 runs to go past them on net run rate.
If Knight Riders lose, they will have to hope that Sunrisers get the better of Mumbai, in which case Knight Riders should still go through on net run rate.
The disadvantage for Knight Riders, though, is that they travel from Dubai to Sharjah for their last game, while the Royals will stay on for their second successive game in conditions which have proved to be tough for batting, and especially difficult for teams to adapt to. Knight Riders have played only once here this season, beating Delhi Capitals by three wickets on September 28.
Mumbai Indians
Matches played: 13, Points: 12, NRR: -0.048, Remaining game: vs Sunrisers Hyderabad
Despite the comprehensive win against Royals, Mumbai still have some work to do to qualify. The most straightforward way for them to make the cut will be if they win their last game, after Royals have beaten Knight Riders. In that case, net run rates will not come into play.
However, if Knight Riders win, Mumbai will need a display similar to the one they put forth against Royals, to have any chance. Even if Knight Riders win by a run, Mumbai will need to win by around 87 runs to go past their net run rate. And if Mumbai lose even by a run, Knight Riders will have to lose by around 85 for Mumbai's net run rate to be better than that of Knight Riders.
Rajasthan Royals
Matches played: 13, Points: 10, NRR: -0.737, Remaining game: vs Kolkata Knight Riders
Royals' utterly shambolic display against Mumbai means they have pretty much given up whatever little chance they had of qualifying. Even if they beat Knight Riders and Mumbai lose to Sunrisers, their net run rate of -0.737 is too dire at this late stage of the competition.
For those who are still interested, Royals need to beat Knight Riders by around 125 runs to go past their NRR, and they also need Mumbai to lose by around 40 runs to ensure their NRR stays below that of Royals. In short, Royals can start planning for the 2022 season.
Punjab Kings
Matches played: 13, Points: 10, NRR: -0.241, Remaining game: vs Chennai Super Kings
Kings are all but out of the race. They can only get to 12, which means they will have to lift their net run rate above that of Knight Riders to stand a chance. For them to qualify, they will have to win their last match, against Super Kings, hope that Knight Riders lose heavily against Royals, and also that Mumbai don't beat Sunrisers.
The net run rate odds are stacked against them: if, for instance, Kings win by 70 runs and Knight Riders lose by the same margin, Kings will edge ahead with an net run rate of 0.034, to the Knight Riders' 0.01.
Sunrisers Hyderabad's tight win against Royal Challengers Bangalore means Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings are assured of a top two finish. Here is a look at how the top three teams are currently placed:
Delhi Capitals
Matches played: 13, Points: 20, NRR: 0.526, Remaining game: vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
Capitals are assured of a top-two finish. If they lose their last game and Super Kings beat Punjab Kings, then they will finish second.
Chennai Super Kings
Matches played: 13, Points: 18, NRR: 0.739, Remaining game: vs Punjab Kings
Super Kings' far superior NRR will be enough for them to retain their second position even if they lose their last game to Punjab Kings. If they win, and if Royal Challengers beat Delhi Capitals, then Super Kings will finish on top of the table.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Matches played: 13, Points: 16, NRR: -0.159, Remaining game: vs Delhi Capitals
The defeat against Sunrisers means Royal Challengers can't get up to second place. Even if they beat Delhi Capitals in their last game and Super Kings lose to Punjab Kings, there is a huge gap between their respective run rates. If you still want to know how the numbers stack up, here is the scenario: if Super Kings lose by about 113 runs and Royal Challengers win by the same margin, then Royal Challengers will sneak ahead on NRR. The more likely scenario is Royal Challengers will be playing the eliminator in Sharjah on October 11.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats