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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

IPL 2018 play-off scenarios and predictions: RCB have momentum and KKR under pressure

Here is a look at how the rest of the Indian Premier League's round-robin games are likely to pan out over the next three days

Mohammed Siraj, second right, celebrates with Bangalore teammates after their 14-run win over Hyderabad on Thursday. Aijaz Rahi / AP Photo
Mohammed Siraj, second right, celebrates with Bangalore teammates after their 14-run win over Hyderabad on Thursday. Aijaz Rahi / AP Photo

Delhi Daredevils host Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Friday in what is a dead rubber for Delhi and almost certainly one for Chennai - we will get to this later. Most of the attention, though, is likely to be on the action coming up a day later.

Saturday's first game could well be called 'Royal Rumble, Part II' as Rajasthan Royals take on Royal Challengers Bangalore at 2.30pm (UAE time) potentially for a place in the play-offs. At 6.30pm, another big match - also one that could decide the play-off line-up - pits Sunrisers Hyderabad against Kolkata Knight Riders.

Let us consider the second game first: with 18 points from 13 games, Hyderabad are the table-toppers and have already reached the qualification round. They, along with Chennai, will end up in the top two positions, unless Kolkata can crush Hyderabad.

But the pressure will be huge on the Knight Riders. With 14 points from as many games, they are just two points behind Chennai in third place. But they will be looking over their shoulders at the moment, given that four teams are just two points behind them (they have all played 13 games each). And should Kolkata lose on Saturday, any of the four teams can pip them in the final standings.

Kohli on Bangalore teammate De Villiers' catch after Thursday's win over Hyderabad

Two of them include Rajasthan and Bangalore.

In an ideal world for Kolkata, not only should they win but also must Rajasthan. Why? Because the latter have an inferior net run-rate (NRR) to Kolkata - the Royals' –0.403 to Knight Riders' –0.091. The Royal Challengers, on the other hand, have an NRR of 0.264. This means Bangalore will overtake Kolkata should the former win and the latter lose even if they end up on the same points.

It could also put a tremendous amount of pressure on the remaining two teams who are on 12 points - Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab.

Come Sunday, Mumbai visit basement side Delhi with an NRR superior to even Bangalore's (0.384). Of course, Bangalore could either reduce the NRR gap or even overtake Mumbai in this regard depending on how big their margin of victory over Rajasthan is likely to be.

But should the Royal Challengers lose, it is almost likely they are out, with Rajasthan then hoping Delhi can do them a favour by beating Mumbai. Rajasthan must also wait to see if Chennai can defeat Kings XI Punjab, who are the fourth team on 12 points.

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This brings us to the curious position Chennai are in.

A place in the play-offs secure, they must now ensure they win at least one of their two remaining games - unless Kolkata lose on Saturday - so that they end up in the top two with Hyderabad. In the unlikely event they do not and Kolkata end up in second place, third-placed Chennai will have to play an additional game - called the Eliminator - against whoever the fourth-placed team are.

Should they win that, they will then have to face the loser of Qualifier 1 - between Hyderabad and Kolkata - in a gamed labelled 'Qualifier 2' for a place in the May 27 final.

Predictions

Predicted winners for final round of games before play-offs:

  • Friday: Delhi v Chennai - Chennai
  • Saturday: Rajasthan v Bangalore - Bangalore
  • Saturday: Hyderabad v Kolkata - Hyderabad
  • Sunday: Delhi v Mumbai - Mumbai
  • Sunday - Chennai v Punjab - Chennai

Final top-four (who will make play-offs): Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Bangalore

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