IPL 2023 playoff scenarios after Kohli’s ton: 7 teams vie for 3 slots in 5 games

An exciting climax to the preliminary phase beckons, with several finals before the actual final set to amp the heat even as the mercury soars to alarming levels at this time of the year.

Virat Kohli ton, SRH vs RCB, IPL 2023
RCB's returns to the dugout after his superb century against SRH. Photo: BCCI/IPL

Each year of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is touted as the ‘best ever’; why should it be any different this time around?

With just three days and five matches left in the 70-game league stage of IPL 2023, only one team has secured qualification to the playoffs. Whatever happens between Friday and Sunday, defending champions Gujarat Titans (GT) will finish on top of the heap and earn two bites at the May 28 final in Ahmedabad; seven other teams are technically still in the running, with only Delhi Capitals (DC) and 2016 winners Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) out of the reckoning.

Also read: IPL 2023: SRH vs RCB highlights: Kohli’s landmark ton and slew of records

It’s pretty much guaranteed that one will have to wait for the final encounter of the first phase, on Sunday night (May 21) at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium between hosts Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Gujarat, to be sure of who the qualifiers are and what the line-ups for Qualifier 1 and the Eliminator will look like. Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) (both 15 points) and Bangalore (14), second through fourth in the points table behind Gujarat, have their destiny in their own hands, and if they win their respective clashes, they will go through, most likely in that same order. There is the possibility of all three losing and still advancing, but that’s only provided Mumbai Indians, the five-time winners, fail to secure victory in their last match, against Hyderabad at the Wankhede on Sunday afternoon.

Bangalore occupy fourth spot ahead of Mumbai, also with 14 points, on net run rate; Rajasthan Royals (RR), Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Punjab Kings (PBKS) all have 12 points but at best, only two of them can finish with 14, given that Rajasthan and Punjab lock horns in Dharamsala on Friday. Kolkata, their run rate of -0.256 reflecting their topsy-turvy season, clash with Lucknow in their finale on Saturday night, that game commencing minutes after the conclusion of Chennai’s showdown with Delhi and therefore both teams knowing exactly where they stand. As of now, two teams (Chennai and Lucknow) can finish with 17 points, and two others (Bangalore and Mumbai) with 16. There is also the prospect of four teams (Bangalore, Mumbai, Rajasthan/Punjab and Kolkata) ending up with 14 points. It might all sound a trifle confusing, so let’s break it down to brass tacks for the seven teams still in the hunt for the three remaining playoff spots:

Chennai Super Kings (15): Currently second in the points table, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men will advance with a simple victory against Delhi on Saturday afternoon. Their current net run rate of +0.381 is the highest among the non-qualifiers and victory should pretty much guarantee second place provided Lucknow don’t score a crushing victory over Kolkata. Chennai can still go through if they lose provided at least one of Mumbai or Bangalore lose their final game.

Also read: IPL 2023 playoff ticket sales begin

Lucknow Super Giants (15): With Krunal Pandya now in charge following the thigh injury to regular skipper KL Rahul, Lucknow have won their last two games and will advance if they topple Kolkata. If Chennai lose and Lucknow pick up full points, they will finish second and run into Gujarat in Qualifier 1 next Tuesday (May 23). Like Chennai, Lucknow too can progress even in the event of a defeat provided one of Bangalore or Mumbai don’t win their final game.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (14): Riding on Virat Kohli’s century to register their second straight win on the road, Bangalore should advance if they best Gujarat on their return to the Chinnaswamy after five straight games on their road. Since theirs is the last league encounter, they will go into the match already knowing if Mumbai are still in contention. If Mumbai lose to Hyderabad, Bangalore can still go through if they ‘manage’ their defeat, but if Mumbai win, Bangalore have no option but to follow suit.

Podcast: IPL 2023 Week 7 Review

Mumbai Indians (14): Not even victory against Hyderabad will guarantee Rohit Sharma’s band a playoff berth because their net run rate of -0.128 is far behind Bangalore’s 0.180. Their best bet is to pick up maximum points and then hope that Gujarat do them a favour by taming Bangalore in their own den, which means Mumbai will finish on 16 points and Bangalore will remain static on 14. Mumbai can still finish in the top-two, like Bangalore, if they win and Chennai and Lucknow go down in their respective final games.

Rajasthan Royals (12): The champions of the inaugural edition are still mathematically in with a chance, but they need a lot of things to go their way. For starters, they must win, and convincingly so, against Punjab to boost their net run rate, which took a terrible beating after their 112-run hammering at the hands of Bangalore last Sunday. Then, they must hope for Mumbai and Bangalore to stumble to defeats, the latter by a reasonably big margin, if they are to sneak in.

Also read: IPL 2023: Gavaskar runs to Dhoni for his autograph

Kolkata Knight Riders (12): Kolkata’s hopes are much slimmer than Rajasthan’s. Their net run rate of -0.256 leaves them with no wiggle room whatsoever, because a simple win against Lucknow won’t suffice. They perforce need a commanding victory which, allied with heavy losses for Bangalore and Mumbai, might open the door, but even Nitish Rana, their skipper for the season, will acknowledge that it’s a tall order.

Punjab Kings (12): Of the teams with 12 points, Punjab’s task is the most arduous, given that their net run rate is a dismal -0.308. They need a mini miracle to stay alive in the tournament; they are up against an equally desperate team in Rajasthan in their final encounter and the game could go either way but it’s unlikely that the result, whatever it might be, will do either team any favours.

Delhi and Sunrisers, already eliminated and with nothing but pride at stake, can play party-poopers while Gujarat, sitting pretty at the top, can afford to watch the action unfolding beneath them with no more than passing interest. Delhi, coming off a surprise win over Punjab, will look to spoil Dhoni’s party in the national capital while Hyderabad, bested by Kohli on Thursday despite a maiden IPL ton by Heinrich Klaasen, will attempt to upend Mumbai’s charge at the Wankhede. An exciting climax to the preliminary phase beckons, with several finals before the actual final set to amp the heat even as the mercury soars to alarming levels at this time of the year.

IPL 2023 Points Table after 65 matches (As of May 18)

IPL 2023 Points Table
IPL 2023 Points Table after SRH vs RCB match on Thursday night (May 18).