The 7th season of the Caribbean Premier League is in the final week of its group stages. With 6 days and 4 group stage games yet to go in CPL, however, the four playoff spots have already been sealed. It hasn’t exactly been down-to-the-wire stuff, but the Sunday game in Bridgetown between Barbados Tridents and the St. Lucia Zouks was as close as it came to a do-or-die match. It was the Zouks’ 10th and final game, and a victory would have taken them to 10 points, with the Tridents on 6 and a game in hand. That would have assured the Zouks’ the fourth and final playoff spot. But the Zouks, with 31 needed off 28 balls while chasing 142, inexplicably collapsed and lost 6 wickets for 6 runs. Captain Darren Sammy was one of those wickets, and just like that, the Zouks fell short of reaching the playoffs only for the second time in their history.

The top two teams will face each other in Qualifier 1, and the loser will go on to play the winner of the Eliminator (3 v/s 4) in Qualifier 2, while the winner of Q1 will directly reach the final.

Here are 5 things you should know before the CPL playoffs begin on October 6th:

MANIC WEEK AHEAD

You would think that this week of dead-rubber matches before the playoffs wouldn’t matter much. But there is a lot of CPL pride at stake, especially because the Guyana Amazon Warriors – the only unbeaten T20 team so far (7 wins in 7) – will take on perennial favourites Trinbago Knight Riders twice in the space of four days. The top two teams are yet to face each other, and this coming week will be a great trial run for the playoffs, in which the two are sure to face off in either the qualifier or the final or both. The Warriors and Knight Riders have been the best of the six teams this season by a long margin.

SECOND SPOT STILL UP FOR GRABS

The St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots finished on 10 points by winning 5 of their 10 games and are currently second in the CPL table. But they aren’t going to finish in second. The Knight Riders are on 9 points with 3 games to play, and even one win will take them to second place and assure them of a top-of-the-table clash in Qualifier 1 with the Warriors. Even the Barbados Tridents, inspired by new recruit Shakib ul Hasan, have everything to play for in their final match against the Knight Riders. A win there will take them to 10 points, equal with the Patriots but ahead on net run-rate into third place. In a matter of less than a week, the Patriots can then go from second to fourth without playing a game. Either way, they will already be preparing for the eliminator scenario, even if they finish third (which is likely).

THE TALLAWAHS CRASH AND BURN

They may have the top scorer of the league so far in Kiwi keeper Glenn Phillips, but the team with Andre Russell and Chris Gayle, two of the best T20 hitters in world cricket, is in last place with a game to spare. The Jamaica Tallawahs have won only 2 out of 9 matches, and even a victory in their final game won’t take them above last position. This has been a disappointing campaign for the Tallawahs – who have won the CPL once – with their star Gayle being the only one to have hit a century so far this season. Yet, he has an average of 28 in 9 games, a clear sign of his decline, and a sign that he may not be picked in the 2020 IPL season for his lack of consistency.

ANOTHER KNIGHT RIDER SPECIAL?

The Trinbago Knight Riders, which is owned by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, are 3-time champions and the most successful CPL team in the league. They have won the last two CPL seasons in a row, and despite losing a few this season, look good to become the first 4-time CPL champions. Fortunately, they have stiff competition in 4-time runners-up Guyana, who are hungry for that elusive title. The Warriors have been one of the most consistent teams – they have reached the playoffs every single season so far and are only one of two teams (with the Knight Riders) to have managed this feat. The Tallawahs were also perpetual playoff competitors till this season.

SURPRISE IN STORE?

The Patriots have reached the playoffs for the third season in a row after starting with two sixth places. They could just be the most dangerous team in the playoffs with nothing to lose. The Zouks are the worst team in CPL across 7 seasons, with only 1 playoff performance (2016) in 7 attempts. With their win on Sunday, the Tridents reached their first playoffs since 2015, and the winner of the first eliminator (likely to be between the Zouks and Tridents) could well become a surprise title winner this season. Between the four playoff teams, there are four CPL titles (3 for Trinbago and 1 for Tridents).

Prediction:

1. Guyana Amazon Warriors
2. Trinbago Knight Riders
3. St Kitts & Nevis Patriots
4. Barbados Tridents

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