With just two matches left in the round-robin stages of the IPL, the semi-final slots still haven't been sealed. Cricinfo examines the various scenarios for Deccan Chargers, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab, the three teams fighting for two spots.
Deccan, Bangalore and Punjab all have 14 points, but with Punjab having played all 14 matches, the winner of today's game between Deccan and Bangalore will finish third on the points table, and will take on Chennai Super Kings in the second semi-final on Saturday. The battle for fourth place will then be between Punjab and the team that loses today, with net run rates (NRR) coming into play.
Currently, Deccan have the best NRR among the three teams, +0.265, followed by Bangalore (-0.253) and Punjab (-0.483). Deccan are so far ahead of Punjab that even if they lose they are virtually assured of fourth place. The only way for Punjab to stay in the hunt is for Deccan to beat Bangalore by a huge margin, so that Bangalore's NRR dips below Punjab's.
The margin of victory needed for that is illustrated in the examples scenarios:
If Deccan bat first
If Deccan post a score of 150 batting first, then Bangalore must score at least 82 in reply to stay safe. But if Deccan set them a target of 180, Bangalore will have to score at least 112 in reply. And if Deccan get 200, Bangalore need 132. Obviously, the less Deccan score, the easier it will be for Bangalore to get to the score they need to ensure their NRR remains higher than Punjab's.
If Bangalore bat first
Bangalore should prefer to bat first as any target set will have to be chased within 10 to 12 overs. If they score 100, Deccan will need to achieve the target in 10.5 overs to knock out Bangalore. If Bangalore make 120, Deccan will need to knock it off in 11 overs. If Bangalore post a high total of around 180, they are almost guaranteed a semi-final spot - Deccan will need to get them in 11.2 overs.
Obviously, Bangalore will save themselves the need to make all these calculations if they go out there and beat Deccan. They'll then finish in third place, and will take on Chennai on Saturday.