Once again, a week is all it took. A week ago, CSK was all but assured top spot, SRH was making its grand comeback into the top two, and RCB and RR were fighting to not be last. The points table wears a completely different look today. Three teams could finish on the same number of points at the top. Let’s take a look at a team-by-team scenario so that we get a better idea of why and how things are heating up in the back end of the league stages:
CSK (Played 12, Won 8)
With two games to play, Dhoni’s men are still first, and favourites to qualify in the top two. But they are far from runaway leaders now. MI has won 7 out of 11 games, and lie second in the table with a superior NRR. If they win their next, MI will lead the table, while CSK will have to be content with second spot. MI has once again pulled the double over CSK, which is why even if CSK defeats DC and KXIP in their last two games, it won’t matter if MI wins their last three. Even worse for CSK, they could be relegated to third if DC manages to defeat CSK and win their last few games, too. Who would have thought?
Prediction: Played 14, Won 9 (Third)
MI (Played 11, Won 7)
MI are in pole position to pip CSK to the top of the table. The in-form Mumbai have won 4 of their last 5 games, and are yet to face favourite whipping boys KKR twice, with a match against SRH in between. A week ago, MI were nowhere in the reckoning to finish on top. Now, MI and DC look good to pull off some upsets and make CSK – who won 7 of their first 8 games – finish in third position.
Prediction: Played 14, Won 9 (First)
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DC (Played 11, Won 7)
Again, DC has a better net-run-rate than CSK. A win against them will take them above CSK against the run of play. DC then face the hungry Royals and the hurt RCB, two teams that will want to upset the apple cart. Shreyas Iyer’s men have things in their own control. Can they continue?
Prediction: Played 14, Won 9 (Second)
SRH (Played 11, Won 5)
Barely in fourth position, SRH are in freefall again. They are equal on points with KXIP and RR, but can go through if they manage to win at least two of their next three games against KXIP (a direct challenger), MI and RCB. With Bairstow back in England, SRH might struggle a bit with that brittle middle order. Manish Pandey is back in form, but will that be enough?
Prediction: Played 14, Won 7 (Fourth)
KXIP (Played 11, Won 5)
The match against SRH will be crucial for Ashwin’s spirited brigade. But they also face KKR and CSK – tough opponents on a losing run. It won’t be easy, but maybe KL Rahul and Gayle can pull a rabbit out of the hat.
Prediction: Played 14, Won 6 (Seventh)
RR (Played 12, Won 5)
A splendid recovery under captain Steve Smith seems to have been the tonic. They easily defeated SRH and have won 3 of their last 5 games. Another two wins might put them in the reckoning for fourth place, which would be a great comeback given their early circumstances.
Prediction: Played 14, Won 6 (Fifth)
KKR (Played 11, Won 4)
KKR has lost 5 in a row, with their IPL 2019 campaign derailed in over a fortnight. Not even Russell has been able to save them. They in fact could have lost the few in which he went great guns, too. The streak has all but cost them a playoff spot. With 3 games to play, KKR have to face bogey team MI twice in a week.
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Prediction: Played 14, Won 5 (Eighth)
RCB (Played 11, Won 4)
All their 4 wins have come in their last 5 games, and Kohli’s men are showing form too little too late. But they can still pip KKR to seventh position, and even KXIP to sixth – a scenario unheard of only a week ago. After losing seven of their first 8 games, that will be a recovery worth talking about.
Prediction: Played 14, Won 6 (Sixth)