Before last week’s results in the Indian Premier League, it was more or less expected that top four teams including, Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rising Pune Supergiant would make their way easily in the playoffs. But, after a few unexpected results with Pune losing to Delhi on Friday and Kings XI Punjab winning a crucial tie against Mumbai, the race still remains wide open for the top two slots. Mumbai Indians almost certain of the top spot until a major setback happens and they lose by a huge margin against Kolkata and them Pune also beat Kings XI by a big margin. Knight Riders are currently second with 16 points followed by Supergiant with 16 and Sunrisers with 15 points. (Results | Fixtures | Points Table)
The top two positions on the points table gives a distinct advantage to the teams. The teams which are one-two in the points table, play the qualifier. This is not like a semi-final. The top two teams face each other in qualifier. A win here will give a direct entry to the final of IPL. But everything is not lost for the team that has lost. It will go to the Qualifier 2 where they get another chance to qualify for the final.
The teams that are placed third and fourth do not have it that easy. Both teams will play each other in the Eliminator. While the team that wins the game moves on to Qualifier 2, the losing team will head home. Eliminator decides the number four team in the IPL. The winner of Eliminator will meet loser of Qualifier 1 in Qualifier 2. A win in Qualifier 2 moves the team into the IPL final.
The top two spots in the points table become very important as team get two chances to qualify while the third and fourth placed teams get only one chance shine.
Given the current situation in this season’s IPL, Mumbai look good to take of the two spots at the top of the table. On the other hand Supergiant also have a decent chance to qualify for the second spot if they defeat Kings XI Punjab on Sunday. Sunrisers Hyderabad have a tough chance to qualify for the second spot only if they win by a big margin against Gujarat Lions on Saturday and keep their fingers crossed hoping Kolkata and Pune to lose their respective matches.