Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK), the two most successful IPL franchises with 9 titles combined in their cabinet, have had a poor start to their IPL 2022 campaigns with both teams losing their first three games and are now languishing at the bottom of the points table. This is, in fact, CSK’s worst-ever start to an IPL season for they had never lost their first three matches.
There are now 11 league matches to go for both teams. And with 10 teams now – instead of 8 – their chances of making the playoffs have decreased much than it would have been in an 8-team tournament.
For reference, during the 2011 IPL, the last time when the tournament saw 10 teams compete with each side playing 14 matches, the side that qualified for the playoffs at the fourth position had 16 points, while the one with 14 missed the top four. This is not how it had been with 8 teams where a team with 14 points had made it into the playoffs. Hence, one could assume, CSK and MI would need to win 8 of their remaining 11 matches to qualify for the top four.
So is there a precedent of a team losing their first three matches but still going on to make the playoffs?
For the CSK and MI fans, the optimistic news – Yes. In fact, it is none other than the Mumbai Indians who finished in the top despite losing their first three matches in the 2014 season.
Rohit Sharma’s side is known to be slow starters as often they lose more than they win in the early part of the tournament before revving it up and launching themselves in the latter part of the season.
In 2014, indeed, they had lost their first 5 – FIVE – matches of the season before winning two. They then won one of the next three and then went on a four-match winning spree to just slip into the playoffs beating Rajasthan Royals, who also finished with 14 points, to the playoff race.
It was one of the greatest games of the IPL that saw MI chase down 190 (they ended with 195 courtesy of Aditya Tare’s six that propelled MI’s net run rate of that of RR’s) in 14.4 overs.
Then again in the 2015 IPL, MI once again couldn’t get their team right early on and slumped to four consecutive defeats at the start of the season before winning their first match and then losing another. They then won 5 matches in a row, lost one, and then won two more. MI then defeated CSK in Qualifier 1 and in the final to win the title.
So, the Mumbai Indians fans have made a habit of seeing their team make slow start before picking up pace. And they would take positives out of the fact that MI has reached the playoffs before as well after losing their first three matches, however, the dynamics of a 10-team tournament could hurt both MI and CSK.