Most experts agree the first target is 16 points because that ensures qualification for the play-offs; then you can push on for a top-two finish. As the 2020 IPL hurtles towards its conclusion, this theory looks accurate again.
Four teams—DC, MI, RCB and KKR—look in reasonable shape, needing two more wins from four or five remaining pool matches to reach the play-offs. The other teams—RR, SRH, KXIP and CSK—are starting to feel the pressure, needing to win most of, or all, their remaining pool matches if they are to stay alive in the competition and reach the knock-out phase.
Nobody should think the pool phase is effectively done and dusted.
IPL history is full of teams that started slowly, experienced some disappointing and inconsistent performances early in the pool phase, but then found form when it mattered, developed momentum and charged through the latter stages to claim the title.
Can RR, SRH, KXIP or CSK become IPL champions in 2020? Of course, they can.
There is star quality and genuine depth in every team in this competition and, make no mistake, any of the eight sides can suddenly get on a roll and sweep all before them. The difference between the teams is much smaller than what the table suggests.
At RCB, we have played some decent cricket at times but also realise we have won several matches which could easily have gone the other way. We are far from complacent. We recognise the thin line between success and failure in T20 cricket.
Look at our last match against RR on Saturday. They produced strong all-round performance and appeared to be in total control for maybe 35 of the 40 overs, until we managed to score quickly at the back end of what proved a successful chase.
That’s T20 cricket. That’s IPL. It’s never done till it’s done.
To prove the point, both matches on Sunday finished with scores level and were only decided by a super over. The quality of cricket and level of sustained excitement at this IPL has been extraordinary; the commentators are running out of adjectives.
At RCB, we must simply stay calm and focused. KKR will be tough on Wednesday and CSK will be hard to beat on Sunday. One game at a time, one step at a time.