There are hardly any inconsequential matches in the Indian Premier League, thanks to the format that keeps the battle alive; and Season 7 is no exception. (BCCI)
With three of the four playoffs spots sealed by Kings XI Punjab, Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders, race is still on for the fourth spot as well as who joins Punjab to finish among the top two and have that extra cushion to qualify for the final.
The IPL format is such that teams finishing No. 1 and 2 on the table after the league stage play Qualifier 1 but the loser of that match gets a second chance to reach the final by playing Qualifier 2 against the winner of the Eliminator that is played between teams finishing No. 3 and 4 on the table.
At present, after their win over Rajasthan Royals on Friday, Punjab have booked the No. 1 spot for themselves with their 10th win taking them to 20 points. But the second position on the leaderboard is most certainly going to be decided between Kolkata and Chennai, both of whom have 16 points and one match in hand.
Mathematically, though, Rajasthan can spoil that equation by beating Mumbai Indians in their last match. A win over the defending champions and a defeat for KKR and CSK in their last respective games will bring all three teams level on 16 points, leaving it to the net run-rate (NRR) to decide who finishes No. 2.
In that eventually, CSK with an NRR of +0.315, are better placed than KKR (+0.264) and Rajasthan (+0.247).