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IPL 2024 playoffs: KKR take on SRH in Qualifier 1, RCB-RR clash in Eliminator

Can KKR maintain their season's flavour without Salt? How big a miss will Buttler be for RR? Is this finally RCB's year?

Here come the IPL 2024 playoffs. It took a thriller on Saturday to decide which of Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) or Chennai Super Kings (CSK) would complete the playoffs line-up, and till the very last league game - a washout in Guwahati last night - to know who would play whom exactly, but now we know. And it's a completely different playoff line-up from last season, with none of 2023's top four making the cut here.

Qualifier 1: KKR vs SRH, May 21, Ahmedabad

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) come into the first qualifier as table-toppers, the first time they've finished the league phase at No. 1. They finished three points clear of anyone else on the table, despite having their last two games washed out. Will they be refreshed, or rusty? If SRH are any example to go by, a break from the cricket is a good thing: they came in after a 10-day break - partly down to the schedule and partly down to the weather - and aced a chase of 215 on Sunday against Punjab Kings. This was only the second time in IPL 2024 that SRH won a game chasing.
Previous meeting: They've played each other only once this season, both team's first game of IPL 2024. It was a high-scoring thriller that ended in a last-ball four-run win for KKR at Eden Gardens.
Player availability: The England players who will be going to the upcoming T20 World Cup have withdrawn early from the IPL, and among them is one of KKR's lynchpins this season: Sunil Narine's big-hitting opening partner, Phil Salt.
Weather forecast: "Very hot with plenty of sunshine" - that's the forecast for Ahmedabad on May 21, and the heat will hardly relent as the lights come on for the evening match: it's a minimum of 31C on the day. The forecast says there's a 0% chance of rain.
Who will win IPL 2024?
894 votes
Royal Challengers Bengaluru
Rajasthan Royals
Sunrisers Hyderabad
Kolkata Knight Riders

Eliminator: RR vs RCB, May 22, Ahmedabad

On April 22, RR were top of the table, flying high, having won seven of their first eight games. At the other end of the table, RCB were languishing, having lost as many as RR had won, six of those defeats coming in a row. Fast forward to May 20, and the turnaround is stunning: RR have since won one in six and lost four in a row before Sunday's washout. RCB have won six in a row, and thus go into this knockout encounter with all the momentum on their side.
Previous meeting: They've played each other once this year, a convincing win for RR in Jaipur, where Virat Kohli hit a century only to be outdone by Jos Buttler.
Player availability: This time, RR will be without Buttler, who's part of the English T20 World Cup contingent that's left the tournament. RCB will be without Will Jacks and Reece Topley for the same reasons.
Weather forecast: The forecast doesn't change much from Qualifier 1. Ahmedabad should remain hot and dry for the Eliminator.

Qualifier 2: Loser of Qualifier 1 vs Winner of the Eliminator, May 24, Chennai

Weather forecast: Some clouds are forecast during the day, but only a 5% chance of rain. A low of 29C, so another hot, sweaty evening in store for the players.

Final: Winner of Qualifier 1 vs Winner of Qualifier 2, May 26, Chennai

There's a possibility of a first-time winner: RCB, ending a 16-year drought in the same season that their women's team knocked off the Women's Premier League title in its second edition.
Or RR could win their first title since the inaugural season when Shane Warne's relatively unfancied team saw off MS Dhoni's Super Kings in the final.
For KKR it would be a first title since 2014, and their third overall. Quite the homecoming for Gautam Gambhir, that would be - he had captained KKR to both their previous titles, and played for them till 2017. This season, he shifted from Lucknow Super Giants back to KKR as team mentor.
SRH's only title (not to confuse them with the other franchise from Hyderabad, Deccan Chargers, who won it in 2009) came in 2016 - can they add to that?
Weather forecast: Not much change from Qualifier 2, but slightly hotter even (min. 30 C) and even less chance of rain (4%).