Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have lost five straight games in the WPL so far. But if results go their way, they could yet make the WPL playoffs, writes Shashwat Kumar.

Let’s get this clear right at the start. There is a very minimal chance that RCB, who have looked uninspiring during their inaugural season, will be able to finish in the top three. As long as there is a chance, though, they will (or rather must) believe.

Of course, they will need a lot of results to go their way. But, as things stand, there is a possibility that they could qualify with NRR not even coming into the picture.

RCB have three games remaining – against Gujarat Giants, Mumbai Indians and UP Warriorz. If they win each of those fixtures, they will end up with six points. UP Warriorz currently have four points and if they were to lose every game they play from here on out, they would finish with that same tally. Gujarat Giants, who have two points at the time of writing, also have three matches left including one against UP Warriorz.

So, if Gujarat Giants were to defeat UP Warriorz, and lose the remainder of their matches, they would only end up with four points, the same as UP Warriorz if they went on to lose their remaining games.

If the aforementioned results unfold in this fashion, RCB would not have to worry about complex NRR calculations, provided they win all the games they have left. They would finish on six points, with UP Warriorz and Gujarat Giants on four.

There are a couple of other scenarios too where RCB can also qualify, although in those circumstances, things will come down to NRR. If UP Warriorz win one of their games, they would finish with six points, which is the maximum tally RCB can accumulate. Similarly, if Gujarat Giants win two of their remaining fixtures, they would finish with six points, thus, bringing NRR into play. At present, RCB have a better NRR than Gujarat Giants. UP Warriorz, however, have the best NRR among the three.

Another possible scenario where NRR comes into play is if all of Gujarat Giants, RCB and UP Warriorz finish on four points. That will only happen if RCB beat Gujarat Giants and UP Warriorz, but lose to Mumbai Indians. Gujarat Giants would also have to lose all their matches apart from the one against UP Warriorz, and UP Warriorz simply keep losing till the end of the group stages.

In that case, there will again be a three-way tie on four points. NRR will then decide which team goes through.

What happens if Gujarat Giants or UP Warriorz end up with more than three wins? Well, RCB, irrespective of whatever they do between now and the end of the group stages, will then have to watch the playoffs on their television sets.

The dynamic of a five-team round-robin stage, where three teams qualify, has still kept RCB in the hunt. But for them to maximise this opportunity, they need to start winning. If they do not do that tomorrow (March 15) against UP Warriorz, they will be eliminated.