The business end of the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL) is upon us, with only six games remaining in the league phase.
So far, only the Gujarat Titans (GT) have assured themselves of a place in the playoffs. The defending champions have racked up 18 points from 13 matches and have sealed their spot in Qualifier 1, which will take place in Chennai on Tuesday, May 23.
Closely following GT are the Chennai Super Kinsg (CSK) and the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG), who have 15 points each and similar net run rates. The Mumbai Indians (MI) and the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are well in the hunt as well.
As of now, only the SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) and the Delhi Capitals (DC) have been mathematically eliminated from the league. They can't get to 14 points, which is a mark that might not even be enough to secure a top-four berth.
However, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), the Rajasthan Royals (RR) and the Punjab Kings (PBKS), who are still technically in the reckoning, will need a lot of results to go their way to keep their playoff dream alive.
Here, we predict the three teams who can join GT in the IPL 2023 playoffs.
Note: This article was compiled before the start of the SRH vs RCB game on Thursday, May 18. If SRH win the clash, CSK and LSG will officially qualify for the playoffs.
#1 Chennai Super Kings - 2nd in IPL 2023
CSK are currently placed second in the standings, with 15 points. Their final league game is a promising fixture against DC, who have been far from their best this season.
Although the Capitals won their previous game, they were beaten soundly by the Super Kings at Chepauk only a few days ago. They will need to come up with a terrific performance to beat MS Dhoni and Co. in Delhi, where the wicket has been rather low and slow.
CSK are the clear favorites to finish on 17 points and secure a playoff berth, and perhaps even a top-two spot depending upon the result of LSG's last league game. The Men in Yellow can also qualify if SRH beat RCB tonight.
#2 Lucknow Super Giants - 3rd in IPL 2023
LSG have a record identical to that of CSK, with a slightly lower net run rate. Their last IPL 2023 league game will be against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at Eden Gardens, which has proven to be a high-scoring venue.
The Super Giants aren't the most assured team against spin, so there's a real chance that the Knight Riders could pull off an upset against them. Even if that happens, though, they'll only need RCB to lose one of their remaining two games, which are against SRH and GT, respectively, to get through.
Needless to say, LSG will qualify if they beat KKR. If they secure the two points and CSK lose, they will also finish second. If Chennai win too, it will come down to net run rate.
#3 Mumbai Indians - 4th in IPL 2023
MI's loss to LSG in their previous IPL 2023 game has thrown a spanner into their works. They face off against SRH in their last game of the league phase at home and should be able to take two points from that encounter.
However, if RCB win both their remaining games, it will come down to a net run rate shootout between them and MI. Bangalore's net run rate is currently better, and if they beat SRH today, they will know exactly what they need to qualify against GT on Sunday, May 21, since they play after the five-time champions.
If SRH beat RCB, MI will qualify if they beat SRH. There is the chance that GT will rest some players for their game against the Royal Challengers, but they might still have enough in the tank to finish the round-robin stage on a winning note.
To put it simply, it's likely that MI will qualify (by beating SRH) if RCB lose at least one of their remaining two games. Faf du Plessis and Co. haven't been too consistent this IPL 2023 season, and the chances of them dropping points is quite high.
So while it's tough to choose between MI and RCB, the former might have a slight edge. This one could go either way, though.
Poll : Will CSK, LSG and MI join GT in the IPL 2023 playoffs?