IPL 2023 | How Delhi Capitals can qualify for Indian Premier League Playoffs

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The absence of swashbuckling Rishabh Pant had hit the Delhi Capitals camp hard, as they began IPL 2023 with five losses on trot. Still, they are not down and out courtesy of an incredibly competitive season, where each team can progress to the playoffs albeit while not controlling their own fate.

Although the elusive IPL title is yet to get a place in their empty cabinet, Delhi Capitals had made a name for themselves in the last four seasons by putting up consistent performances with both bat and ball. The resurgence started in 2019 under Shreyas Iyer, who led them to reach the Playoffs for the first time in seven years. In that season, even though they finished third, they seemed to be a work in progress with a core filled with emerging young Indian stars. When they finished runner-ups and then third the following seasons, it appeared to be a question of when and not if they would finally break through to some silverware. But it was not meant to be as not only did they replace Shreyas Iyer the captain with Delhi boy Rishabh Pant, the former was sent into the auction pool. The result - from being one of the favorites to missing the playoffs altogether in 2022. 

But then in IPL 2023, the ploy and everything for the Capitals seems to have disappeared. Ahead of the season, they announced David Warner – their last season’s top-scorer – as the captain in place of the injured Pant, but under his leadership, all they endured in the first half of the season was nothing but disappointment. They had a torrid start in the first half of the season before eventually securing their first victory in the sixth attempt, against Kolkata Knight Riders. They gained some momentum from there, registering three more victories over the next four matches until a thumping 27-run defeat against Chennai Super Kings led them to suffer their seventh loss of the campaign.

The Capitals think tank, led by two prolific leaders of their own times Ricky Ponting and Sourav Ganguly, has received harsh criticism for their decision-making and team selections as the tournament progressed. But interestingly, everything can change in the next ten days if they manage to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the tournament. Although the chances are slim and there are too many permutations and combinations, they are not mathematically eliminated from the Playoffs race.

If Delhi Capitals win all three remaining matches

First things first. The Capitals can’t afford to lose any other match if they still hope to get a place in the Playoffs. Their remaining three fixtures are against Punjab Kings (twice) and Chennai Super Kings, and running the table would take their points tally to 14. Yes, you’re reading right. A team can earn a playoff place with seven wins even after such competitiveness in this year’s points table from top to bottom. But they seek support from every team barring Lucknow Super Giants to get there. So how does that play out? Let us dig into it.

The Capitals would hope Mumbai Indians can make three wins out of the remaining three matches, against Gujarat Titans, Lucknow Super Giants, and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively. That would take their points tally to 18, one more than Chennai Super Kings, who would have a maximum of 17 points after the DC defeat. On top of that, the Super Giants, currently with 11 points from 11 matches, must lose all three matches to do the Capitals a favour. These are an absolute for DC’s progress else the chasing pack above them will mathematically eliminate them from the race.

Additionally, they will have a long look at the remaining fixtures of Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Punjab Kings, who all have bagged 10 points each from 11 matches. If one of the four teams would get two wins before the league stage ends, the Capitals would be out of contention. However, a win apiece for each team would take them to 12 points, which means the Capitals would progress with more points without having any worry about their net run rate (-0.605).

More importantly, each victory of the four teams, against whom the Capitals are fighting for a place in the Playoffs, can’t be random either. The Royals must defeat the Knight Riders, Punjab must cruise past the Royals, and the Royal Challengers must triumph against the Royals, while three defeats for LSG means the Knight Riders’ automatic victory over them. These results would only guarantee a place for the Playoffs, or else, given their NRR, which is the poorest in the competition, there is realistically no chance of advancing to the next stage. Side by side, Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are with eight points from 10 matches, can’t win more than two matches to make way for the Capitals.

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