IPL 2018 is on the final stretch in the race for the playoffs. Some unexpected results for teams in the bottom half of the IPL Points Table has created an interesting scenario, which sees five teams still in with a chance to reach the IPL playoffs. While third-placed Kolkata Knight Riders have 14 points, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab are all on 12 points with one match remaining for each of these teams. Here is a look at how the teams stand and what they need to do to make it to the IPL 2018 playoffs.
Kolkata Knight Riders (14 points from 13 matches, Run Rate: -0.091)
Though the Kolkata franchise has a two-point advantage over the other teams that are in the race for playoffs, KKR are in an unenviable position of facing table-toppers SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH). SRH might have already qualified for the playoffs but still have a lot to play for. The Hyderabad franchise needs to win to stay at the top but a loss could see them being overtaken by MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings. So SRH will not be taking it easy and KKR will have their hands full.
But KKR at least have their future in their own hands -- something the other teams don't. A win is all that KKR need to reach the playoffs but even if they lose, there is a chance of reaching the last four. If KKR lose, they will need Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore to lose as well as both these teams boast of a better net run-rate.
A Rajasthan win over RCB and a Delhi Daredevils win over Mumbai will be the best scenario for KKR but they still will need to make sure that they do not lose by a big margin. If Kings XI Punjab are to surpass KKR, they will need to win big against CSK and that still might not be enough for KXIP.
Mumbai Indians (12 points, Run Rate: +0.384)
Mumbai Indians are also in a strong position to qualify. A win over bottom-placed Delhi Daredevils should secure them a place in the IPL playoffs due to their high run-rate. But Mumbai Indians need to win at all costs because loss would be the end of their campaign.
The defending champions at least will be up against a team that has nothing to play for but pride. A win for Mumbai still might not guarantee them a place. The scenario for that to happen is that KKR beat SRH, and Royal Challengers Bangalore get the better of Rajasthan Royals by a huge margin. In that event, KKR will qualify by the virtue of their win while RCB's big win would give their run-rate a big boost and could possibly see them leapfrog Mumbai.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (12 points, Run Rate: +0.264)
Virat Kohli's team were down and out just a week ago but back-to-back wins and some other results going their way have seen them stay in contention. A big score and a 14-run win against SRH helped RCB improve on their run-rate.
If RCB win their final match against Rajasthan Royals, they will need either Kolkata Knight Riders or Mumbai Indians to lose to make to the top four. The best scenario for Kohli's team will be if Mumbai Indians also lose, but in the event they win, then RCB will need a big win over Rajasthan to have the possibility of bettering MI's net run-rate.
Rajasthan Royals (12 points, Run Rate: -0.403)
Rajasthan Royals are in a difficult spot and will need a lot of other results going their way to reach the IPL playoffs. Rajasthan first need to beat RCB in their match at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Saturday. Then they need Kolkata Knight Riders or Mumbai Indians to lose. If both teams (KKR, MI) win and Rajasthan Royals also manage to beat RCB, that will mean Mumbai and Rajasthan will be locked at 14 points each while KKR will be on 16 and would have qualified.
Rajasthan's run-rate is much lower than that of Mumbai, so it will be next to impossible for them to overhaul them. The best case scenario for Rajasthan is that KKR lose to SRH by a big margin and that could give a chance to Rajasthan to leapfrog KKR if they beat RCB by a big margin as well.
Kings XI Punjab (12 points, Run Rate: -0.490)
The Ravichandran Ashwin-led side is pretty much in the same boat as Rajasthan Royals. They would need a fair few favours to have any chance of qualifying for the IPL 2018 playoffs. Punjab first and foremost need to beat Chennai Super Kings by a huge margin and that still could not be enough if Mumbai, KKR and RCB win.
To try and better Mumbai and RCB's net run rate, Kings XI Punjab will need a miracle and that scenario looks next to impossible. Punjab hope that KKR, Mumbai and RCB all lose and then hope that they are able to better Rajasthan's or KKR's run-rate. A more likely possibility will be that of overhauling Rajasthan, who need to beat RCB. But a big loss for KKR and a big win for Punjab could see the latter climb over the Kolkata franchise.