IPL 2023 | How Chennai Super Kings can qualify for Indian Premier League Playoffs

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After an uncharacteristic 2022 season marred with controversy and a shambolic ninth-placed finish, the CSK star has risen again in 2023 to virtually secure qualification with three games to go. However, the team would be wanting more, knowing they’re well on track to make it to Qualifier 1.

Regardless of where the title ends up at the end of IPL 2023, the season would be remembered as the one where Chennai Super Kings had 14 home games in the tournament. The Yellow Army has been omnipresent at every venue across the country whenever the side have played, switching loyalties for a day in tribute to the legendary figure that leads Chennai from the front. However, MS Dhoni has made winning the hallmark of his career, and if this were indeed to be his swansong, Thala would have no intentions of going gently into the good night. In 2022, the veteran rescinded captaincy and saw his ship sink at the rate of knots but now back at the helm and in control, Dhoni is all set to end his playing journey with one last glorious hurrah.

The men in Dhoni’s contingent have certainly stepped up to the plate to make sure the fans get what they deserve, helping the team register seven victories in 12 encounters so far alongside four losses and a solitary no result. Despite starting the season with a loss against reigning champions Gujarat Titans followed by a host of injuries to key players such as Ben Stokes and Deepak Chahar, CSK typically stayed afloat courtesy of some unlikely heroes. While established openers Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad kept breathing fire and devastating opposition attacks with incredible consistency, 27-year-old Tushar Deshpande soared to the limelight with a flurry of wickets. The entire team seemed to be working in harmony to help Dhoni find the perfect finish, which he has often done in the season with quick cameos laden with sixes. 

Now, with the battle lines drawn and territories nearly established, a final sprint remains for the top-four spots albeit second-placed CSK would be targeting a place in Qualifier 1 to have an extra safety net in their run to a potential title. Here are the different ways in which things can unfold for the franchise depending on their results in the remaining games.

If CSK win both their remaining fixtures

Chennai Super Kings currently have 15 points to their name from 12 games with a handsome net run rate of 0.493, trailing just leaders Gujarat Titans by a single point. Should the team win both its remaining encounters against Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals respectively, their points tally would jump to 19, ensuring them a top-two finish with the possibility of ending the league stage as outright winners.

If CSK win one of their two remaining fixtures

After Mumbai Indians’ win over Gujarat Titans last night, CSK face the threat of being leapfrogged by their fiercest rivals should they end up losing either to KKR or DC. MI are currently third in the table with 14 points to their name and two games in hand. Lucknow Super Giants are in the race as well, since they can go up to 17 points if they win all their games which would take them level with Chennai.

However, much to CSK’s fortune, Lucknow and Mumbai have a head-to-head clash scheduled against each other on May 16, ensuring only one can possibly earn all potential points still up for grabs. Thus, Chennai Super Kings need Mumbai Indians to lose either against LSG or the other fixture against Sunrisers Hyderabad to ensure they don’t get to 18 points in the season. As for LSG, a loss in any of their three games would render CSK uncatchable but even three wins might not be enough considering their NRR presently reads 0.294, a fair way off CSK’s 0.493.

Another scenario exists in which CSK finish on top of the table with 17 points – two losses for Gujarat Titans, dooming them to a finish below CSK while LSG or MI potentially join the four-time champions in Qualifier 1.

If CSK lose both their two remaining fixtures

This is where things get tricky for the franchise since back-to-back losses for them open up the window for all mid-table teams to overtake them. The good news for them is, only one of Royal Challengers Bangalore or Rajasthan Royals would be able to go past Chennai because they have a head-to-head clash remaining. Considering Gujarat Titans are already qualified in this scenario, that leaves CSK, MI, LSG, and PBKS to fight for two potential spots. Mumbai and Lucknow play each other as well as previously discussed but both teams can still qualify over CSK regardless of the result of their game. Thus, for CSK to qualify with two losses, they need both franchises to lose a game apart from their respective clash to be truly out of contention. Alternatively, if one of the two sides ends up winning all their remaining games, the other would need to lose an additional match as will Punjab Kings to save a spot for the Super Kings in the top four. In simpler words, all Chennai would need to qualify is for all the other contenders to lose a game apiece, practically making them well-placed to go on another hunt for the title.

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