S. SOORAJ | 6th October 2021

As the playoffs approach, we already have three qualified teams- Delhi Capitals, Chennai Super Kings, and the Royal Challengers Bangalore, and the fight for the 4th spot only keeps getting better and better with each game.

While the 3 qualified teams would be eyeing a place in Qualifier 1, the remaining teams have a mountain to climb to reach the coveted 4th spot in the points table. With SRH out of the equation, the other four teams- KKR, MI, PBKS, and RR, all have a chance of entering the playoffs.

Let’s assess how the odds are stacked for every side, what needs to happen for the teams in question to get their playoff spot and how we rate their chances of qualification.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Among the 4 teams that are fighting for a spot in the playoffs, KKR has the most chances of making it. This is mainly because their fate is completely in their hands.

All they need to do is win their pivotal game against the Rajasthan Royals and that’s job done. Since KKR has a positive NRR and their competitors MI have a negative NRR, it would take a victory of enormous margins for Mumbai to get through, despite a Kolkata win.

So, a KKR win means that they will be seen through to the playoffs after what was a torrid outing in the first half of their IPL season. The team was in disarray and it’s safe to say, wasn’t clicking in any department which saw them win only 2 out of their first 7 games.

But they came back stronger in UAE conditions, winning 4 of the 6 games in the second half of the season. A win on Thursday will seal a spot in the playoffs for KKR after a two-year gap.

The side has completely changed in terms of batting with the inclusion of Venkatesh Iyer who has been putting splendid displays at the top of the order.

But KKR’s main strength is their spin bowling, with both Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine striking gold in almost every game.

With wins against top teams like RCB and DC in the second phase of the IPL, the chances of a third IPL trophy aren’t far-fetched for the Shah Rukh Khan-owned franchise.

Chances of qualification: 4/5

Mumbai Indians

If there is one team that you simply can never count out, despite every single odd being against them, it is the Mumbai Indians. We have witnessed how this team has picked itself up from rusty starts and made it to the playoffs, time and again.

Heroic comebacks have just become a part of a pattern for MI, at this point. Of course, their qualification heavily depends on RR’s victory over KKR in a crucial game on Thursday. But that is never unlikely, given the unpredictability that RR brings to the table.

Mumbai truly had a poor start to IPL 2021 and their form, or lack thereof continued in UAE as well when they lost their first 2 outings.

However, a huge win against RR yesterday has certainly boosted their chances of making the cut for the playoffs.

If RR can win their next game against KKR, and MI are able to see through SRH, then there is no stopping this team from qualifying to the next round.

So, all eyes would be on the crucial game between KKR and RR, as it could well and truly decide the fate of three different franchises.

But if Mumbai do lose their game against Hyderabad, it still isn’t game over for the men-in-blue. They could still qualify for the next round, given their margin of loss is minute and both PBKS and KKR lose their respective games.

Mumbai would be hoping to fire on all cylinders against SRH on Friday and back their splendid pace-bowling attack that has seen them through in crunch ties this season.

Their batting has lacked any real intent or plan since the return of the IPL and have failed miserably to pose any defendable targets on the board. With the MI batting lineup forming the core of India’s T20 World Cup squad, it’s a worrying sign to see them flatter to deceive, right before such a major tournament.

Chances of qualification – 3/5

Punjab Kings

If only they had performed better in clutch situations and won the games they were supposed to win, Punjab wouldn’t be in this position. A game that was begging to be put away against the Rajasthan Royals was thrown away by KL Rahul’s men, which sees them languishing in 6th place, reliant on the other teams for a playoff spot.

While the chances of Punjab Kings getting through are slim, it still isn’t over for them. PBKS obviously need to win their game against CSK on the 7th of October at any cost. And they have no choice but to depend on RR and SRH to win their respective games for PBKS to seal 4th spot in the points table.

SRH’s victory over MI and that too, by a sizeable margin should put PBKS ahead of MI in the points table. However, none of this would matter if KKR just won their next game against RR as they are sitting atop of 4th spot with 14 points.

PBKS’ middle-order crumbled at every opportunity, gifting points to opposition from winning positions. Qualification for the Punjab Kings is a tough ask right now and praying hard may still not get them their wish this time ‘round.

Chances of qualification – 2/5 

Rajasthan Royals

Qualification for the playoffs right now is very far-fetched for the men in pink who were decimated by the Mumbai Indians in their previous game. Their batting order didn’t deliver as it did against CSK, which saw them pose a humiliating total of 94. MI saw the game out with ease, jumping up two spots in the points table.

Not only has this game seen the Rajasthan Royals surrender 2 points, but their NRR has also taken a heavy dent, making it almost impossible for them to earn a playoff spot.

Now, they need to win against KKR by a huge margin and pray for both MI and PBKS to incur heavy defeats to seal a playoff spot.

A playoff spot is closest thing to impossible for the Royals and pretty much, anyone who sits in front of the TV to watch the IPL would have already counted this outfit out of the race.

RR has an array of international talent that has failed to deliver consistently and they’ve had to suffer the consequences of this as a result.

Well, there’s always next year and Rajasthan needs to come back with a much stronger artillery next year to end a 14-year IPL drought after their inaugural championship-winning season.

Chances of qualification – 1/5