IPL 2023 | How Kolkata Knight Riders can qualify for Indian Premier League Playoffs

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Despite losing four matches on the trot in the middle of IPL 2023, Kolkata Knight Riders were dreaming to get a place in the playoffs. However, chances are now bleak after their recent big-margin defeat against Rajasthan Royals, but they can still make it if there is a God’s plan in store for them.

Kolkata Knight Riders endured a massive blow ahead of the season when they heard the news of Shreyas Iyer’s unavailability due to a back injury. Then the Purple and Gold Brigade suffered another blow, as Shakib Al Hasan opted out of the entire competition due to international engagements and personal reasons. Their absence led the KKR think-tank to give the captaincy duty to Nitish Rana, and unsurprisingly, considering the comparatively weaker and inexperienced squad they have got, people had little hope for him to pull off miraculous performances one after another in order to advance to the next round. 

As expected with the tournament’s progression, the results did not come in KKR’s favour in the way they would have hoped. The side only had two victories in the opening seven matches of a season where nine of the 10 participating teams (except Delhi Capitals) went toe-to-toe to progress to the playoffs. Chandrakant Pandit learned from their mistakes thereon, securing four wins over the next five outings until Rajasthan Royals handed them a reality check of how lacklustre they have been throughout the season.

However, there is still a ray of hope for KKR, albeit that is hardly a real possibility.  But let one thing be very clear first: they can’t afford to lose any of their last two matches to keep themselves in the hunt.

If Kolkata Knight Riders win all two remaining matches

KKR will get to 14 points if they secure two wins in their last two league matches. Now, what do the others require to do to make way for them? Firstly, Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings, who have already got 15 or more points, can’t help the Purple and Gold Brigade as they are already superior to them. Therefore, KKR will play for a place in the Eliminator, but even for that, they first need Rajasthan Royals, who have bagged 12 points from 12 matches, to lose the remaining two fixtures. Side by side, Lucknow Super Giants must endure the same fate as well, albeit one of them would be handed by KKR itself, and the other, if it comes, would be at the hands of the five-time champions Mumbai Indians. These results would restrict Lucknow to 13 and Rajasthan to 12 points, allowing Kolkata to finish ahead of them.

Now, let’s come to KKR’s other competitors – Royal Challengers Bangalore, Punjab Kings, and Sunrisers Hyderabad. They seek very specific results whenever they take the field for the remainder season to keep their outside chances alive. Firstly, RCB must beat the Royals, and then suffer back-to-back defeats to finish with 12 points. Similarly, the Sunrisers also have to win just once in their remaining three fixtures to end the campaign with the same number of points. These results would automatically allow KKR to remain ahead of both of them. In other words, both RCB and SRH will be eliminated if they stay put on 12 points, leading KKR to have a lone battle with PBKS.

From here on, the complication begins. The two Royals' defeat which KKR seek means one of them will come against Punjab. It would take Shikhar Dhawan and his boys to 14 points. Even if Punjab lose their other remaining fixture, against Delhi Capitals, they will still stay in the hunt and the fourth place will be entirely decided by better net run rate. In this case, KKR are on the backfoot at present with an NRR of -0.357, compared to Punjab’s -0.268. Thus, not only do KKR have to beat Chennai Super Kings and Lucknow Super Giants but also have to secure the results by a big margin to be there in the top half of the points table.

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