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Exploring IPL 2021 Playoff Qualification Scenarios

The 2021 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), in its final stages, is boiling out to be an exciting and intense battle. With three teams having qualified, the race for the final spot continues and could even go down the wire. A total of four teams can still aim for the final spot, provided a few aspects go in their direction.

While Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Delhi Capitals (DC) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have all earned their spot, the remaining teams, barring Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), have to keep on winning and hope for a few other factors to turn their way, if they want the fourth spot to be theirs. So here’s a detailed look into how the remaining four can settle down with the top four. 

2021 IPL Playoff Qualification Scenarios

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)

KKR are the best-placed team to earn a spot in the playoffs and move further. They also have an added benefit of a net run rate, which is higher than any of the teams placed below them. However, if they need to qualify, they will have to win their remaining fixtures, which is a game against Rajasthan Royals (RR) on the 7th of Oct. While a win could lead to playoffs, a loss would lead to the following:

1. A loss for KKR would mean a win for RR, who are also a part of the list in terms of teams looking for the final spot in the playoffs. Hence, it would benefit the Royals. 

2. If KKR lose, their hopes of qualification will be left down to games between MI and RR and SRH and MI again. MI will have to beat RR and then lose to SRH, which would leave several teams with 12 points and KKR could qualify with their net run rate.

Rajasthan Royals (RR)

If there is one team that is close to KKR in terms of being able to qualify for the playoffs, then it is RR. The Royals have had a mixed season and if they happen to lose their remaining games, they will be eliminated from IPL 2021. Due to that, RR have a do-or-die contest in front of them and will have to keep on winning until they are able to qualify for the playoffs. But if they lose both their games or either of them, the following situations could come in.

1. RR’s remaining games are against MI and KKR. So if they happen to beat MI and lose to KKR, they would get eliminated because KKR will receive a total of 14 points. 

2. On the other hand, if they lose to MI and beat KKR, their results will depend on the game between SRH and MI, where the former will have to beat the latter for MI to stay with 12 points. 

3. Apart from all this, there is another scenario wherein all four teams could come towards a 12-point tie. In this case, RR will have to beat KKR by 75 runs in order to go past their net run rate. 

Mumbai Indians (MI)

Mumbai Indians have not looked like the champions they are and right now, they sit on shaky grounds. Their hopes of entering the playoffs are quite slim as they need to win their remaining games and beat KKR’s net run rate. As a result, their games against RR and SRH are quite important and they would need to win the same by a combined aggregate of 190 runs. 

However, there are a few more situations that MI need to consider and we have listed them below.

1. The game against KKR and RR is quite crucial to MI. If RR manage to beat KKR, MI will not have to be worried about their net run rate. However, if KKR beat RR, the Rohit Sharma led team could get eliminated. 

2. Apart from that, if MI lose their remaining games, there is no other scenario that could keep them from getting eliminated. 

Punjab Kings (PBKS)

If MI’s chances of qualifying are slim, Punjab’s chances are almost invisible. However, theoretically, they can still qualify for the playoffs, provided a handful of scenarios and match predictions go their way. With only one game remaining, Punjab can only get to 12 points and not go beyond the same. So if Punjab were to qualify, the rest of the teams will have to stay with 12 points and not go beyond it. 

The only way that can happen is if the following situations come into effect. 

1. For starters, Punjab will have to beat CSK by a big win due to their poor net run rate and due to the fact that KKR have a good net run rate.

2. Apart from that, RR will have to beat KKR and then lose to MI to stay within 12 points. Followed by which MI will also have to lose to SRH.

The Battle for Top Two

Apart from all the firepower that comes from playoffs, there is another battle brewing in the same league. It is the battle for the top two and it rests with three teams, DC, CSK and RCB. All three teams bring in different scenarios and it all depends on how they manage to go forward from here. 

1. The three-way tie

A three-way tie would always be interesting and we can witness the same if CSK win their game against Punjab and RCB win two of their remaining games against Hyderabad and Delhi. Since two teams come on board with 20 points and Delhi already hanging on to 20 points, this scenario could lead to a three-way tie. However, CSK and DC have a dominant net run rate which could come into effect if a three-way tie were to be formed.

2. A top-two finish for CSK

CSK winning their game against RR will leave them with 20 points, which even if leads to a three-way tie could benefit them due to a good net run rate. Hence, winning their final game could help them land a top-two finish. On the other hand, if CSK lose to Punjab, they will be left with 18 points and provide a clear advantage for RCB to enter the top two, provided they win two of their remaining games.

However, if RCB wins their game against Hyderabad but loses against Delhi, CSK will benefit from the same, as they enter the top two with a better run rate. 

3. A top-two finish for DC

Delhi sits comfortably with 20 points on the table and is almost guaranteed a top-two finish. Even if RCB win two of their remaining games, a three-way tie for points would leave them behind Chennai and Delhi due to their run rate.

4. A top-two finish for RCB

A top-two finish for RCB in order to enter Qualifier 1 would only be possible if they win all their remaining games and if Chennai loses to Punjab. Since three-way ties will not work out for the Royals, they can only enter the first qualifier, which takes the winner straight to the finals, if they win two of their remaining games and if Chennai loses and remains at 18 points. 

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