Royal Challengers Bangalore boosted their prospects of a berth in the IPL 2022 playoffs with a comprehensive 8-wicket victory over table-toppers Gujarat Lions but in the process eliminated two other teams.
Punjab Kings meet Sunrisers Hyderabad for the final league match of the season on Sunday but that is now a dead rubber. They are both on 12 points and the winner from that game would only go to 14 points which is not enough for playoffs qualification this season.
Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders were already out of the playoff hunt before RCB’s win on Thursday.
However, RCB themselves are still not assured of a playoffs berth yet. They finished the league stages with 16 points from 14 matches and are now 4th on the points table behind newbies Gujarat Lions and Lucknow Super Giants who have already qualified and Rajasthan Royals who are on 16 points with a better net run rate and a game in hand.
IPL 2022: Full Coverage | Points Table
RCB also have 16 points from 14 matches but their negative net run rate (-0.253) could result in a heartbreak.
Delhi Capitals, who are on 14 points, play Mumbai Indians in their last league match on Saturday.
So, what is the qualification scenario at this stage, with just three matches remaining before the playoffs start on May 25?
Rajasthan Royals vs Chennai Super Kings, May 20
Rajasthan Royals have the best NRR (0.304) among the three vying for the last two playoffs spots. A victory would help them seal a top-two spot which would give them two shots at the final. Lucknow Super Giants, who are currently No.2, have a lower NRR (0.251) than Rajasthan Royals.
Even if Rajasthan Royals lose to Chennai Super Kings, they would want to keep the deficit as low as possible to still make it to the last-four.
Mumbai Indians vs Delhi Capitals, May 21
The equation is pretty simple for Delhi Capitals. A victory over Mumbai Indians will take them into the playoffs and a defeat will be the end of their journey this season.
Delhi Capitals have 14 points with a NRR of 0.255 and a win will help them leapfrog Royal Challengers Bangalore who would then only have themselves to blame.
Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Punjab Kings, May 22
RCB may or may not qualify for the playoffs but they ensured that the last league match of the season was completely insignificant. SRH looked good for a while this summer but their inconsistency cost them big time while Punjab Kings never really looked the part for the better part of the season.
To cut a long story short, Royal Challengers Bangalore will spend a sleepless night and root for Mumbai Indians to defeat Delhi Capitals at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.
As an aside, MI have been in decent form recently, winning three of their last five matches after failing to win any of their first eight matches in the season.