IPL 2019 playoffs: Mumbai Indians sets up CSK meeting; SRH sneaks in with 12 points

Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, and Sunrisers Hyderabad finished in the top four at the end of the league phase of IPL 2019.

Mumbai Indians will meet Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier after finishing atop the IPL 2019 points table.   -  AP

Mumbai Indians finished atop the IPL 2019 points table with a crushing nine-wicket win against Kolkata Knight Riders in its final league fixture and set up a mouthwatering Qualifier 1 against Chennai Super Kings at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, where the Mumbai franchise hasn't lost since 2011. Mumbai is one of only two franchises — the other is Rajasthan Royals — which have gone on to lift the trophy after finishing first in the league stage.

Chasing 134 against Knight Riders, Mumbai won with 23 balls to spare, thereby improving its already-healthy net run-rate (+0.32) to +0.42 and moving up to first place. Delhi Capitals, which has the same number of points as MI and CSK but a inferior net run rate, finished third and will play the Eliminator against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Sunrisers sneaked through in fourth place with just 12 points, thanks to KKR's defeat to Mumbai in the final league fixture of IPL 2019.

The first Qualifier will be played in Chennai on Tuesday (May 7), before the Eliminator and Qualifier 2 are played on May 8 and 10. The winner of Qualifier 1 will reach the final, while the loser will play the winner of the Eliminator in Qualifier 2. The winner of Qualifier 2 will progress to the final, which is scheduled to be held on May 12 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. The Eliminator and second Qualifier are scheduled to be played at the Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam.

—Road to the playoffs—

Each of the top three teams finished with nine wins and five losses, but they had contrasting starts to their seasons.

Chennai lost just one of its first eight fixtures and had one foot in the playoffs when the three other teams that eventually qualified for the playoffs were having difficulty stringing two-three wins together. M. S. Dhoni and co. were the first to qualify for the playoffs, though their form tailed off towards the end of the league phase, with just two wins in the final six league fixtures.

Mumbai was a lot more consistent in the league phase this season compared to the last, and its consistency was a major factor in it securing qualification for the playoffs with a match to spare. It goes into the playoffs having peaked at the right time and Rohit Sharma and co., who were one of the title contenders at the start of the season, will believe they can add a fourth IPL title to the trophy cabinet.

Third-placed Delhi Capitals has been a franchise reborn this season and it has reached the playoffs of an IPL season for the first time since 2012. It was the second team to secure a playoff spot but will be disappointed to finish only third despite having the same number of wins as MI and CSK. Its 80-run loss to Chennai away from home on May Day dented its previously-healthy net run rate and its final run rate of +0.04 ultimately cost it a place in the top two and having two chances to reach the final.

With 12 points from 14 fixtures, Sunrisers had to rely on Mumbai to beat KKR in the final fixture of the league phase to squeeze through as the fourth-placed team. Its points tally is the least for a team that has qualified for the playoffs and, in the Eliminator, it will face a resourceful Delhi team which will be without Kagiso Rabada, the leading wicket-taker (25 wickets) of the season so far, after a back niggle got Cricket South Africa to ask him to return home as a precaution.

IPL 2019 playoffs

Qualifier 1: Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings; May 7, Tuesday, 7.30 PM
Eliminator: Delhi Capitals vs Sunrisers Hyderabad; May 8, Wednesday, 7.30 PM
Qualifier 2: Mumbai Indians/Chennai Super Kings vs Delhi Capitals/Sunrisers Hyderabad; May 10, Friday, 7.30 PM

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