As the 16th season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) heats up, all teams are vying for a spot in the playoffs, with only the top four teams earning a chance to compete in the next phase of the tournament. With nine other teams competing for the coveted spots, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will need to be at the top of their game to see off their challengers and secure their place in the top four.
The IPL 2023 playoffs will see the top four teams compete in four matches – Qualifier 1, Eliminator, Qualifier 2, and the Final – to determine the winner of the tournament. The top two teams will earn a second chance at making the final. The top two will face each other in the Qualifier 1, with the winner of that match earning a direct entry into the final, while the loser will get a second shot at making the final via Qualifier 2, where they will face the winner of the Eliminator. In the Eliminator, the third and fourth placed teams will face off in a knockout match.
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As it stands, RCB are tied with four other teams – Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians, and Punjab Kings – on 10 points after 10 matches. Only RR has a positive Net Run Rate and hence occupies the fourth spot. The top three spots are currently occupied by GT (14 points), CSK (13 points), and LSG (11 points). KKR (8 points), DC (8 points), and SRH (6 points) make up the rest of the table. Although RCB has a negative NRR, they have a better NRR compared to MI and PBKS. To improve their chances of moving up the table, RCB will have to win their remaining matches and also have an eye on NRR.
RCB has won matches against Delhi Capitals, MI, PBKS, RR, and LSG, while they suffered defeats to Kolkata Knight Riders (twice), Chennai Super Kings, and DC and LSG (reverse fixtures). They have also played 6 of their 7 home matches already. Therefore, to make it to the playoffs, RCB will need to remain unbeaten on the road. But, with five losses in nine matches, can the Bangalore-based side, who are heavily dependent on their top three batsmen, still make it to the playoffs?
In scenario one, after losing to DC, RCB will need to win their remaining four matches, including doing the double over MI and RR, and beating Sunrisers Hyderabad and Gujarat Giants in their final two matches. If they manage to do that, RCB will finish with 18 points and possibly make it to the top four, depending on the results of other teams in the points table. However, NRR will be key, and RCB will need to work on that as well.
In scenario two, if RCB wins only three of their remaining matches, they will need other teams on 10 points to drop points, as 16 points may be enough for a playoff spot. However, RCB will need to keep an eye on their NRR because the current top four teams all have a superior NRR compared to theirs and could finish above them if they all end up on the same points. If RCB ends up on 16 points, they will need RR, MI, PBKS, and LSG to lose at least two of their remaining matches, which will ensure they all finish on 15 or fewer points. They will also want KKR to beat PBKS, RR, and LSG. Additionally, they will want CSK to beat KKR.