At the start of last week, Delhi Capitals were sitting happily at the top of the table with seven wins from nine games. Their balanced side was all that commentators and analysts could talk about, comparing them with the defending champions. Former cricketer Aakash Chopra had already called for a summit clash between the two to decide for the title. But in a space of just a fortnight, Delhi find themselves on brink of elimination, following their fourth-straight loss in IPL 2020 and having suffered a massive NRR jolt.
It all started with their defeat to Kings XI Punjab in Dubai on October 20. Since then they lost three more - against Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians respectively. While by points tally, they still remain third with 14 points from 13 games, the margin of their defeats in these fourth matches - 88 runs, 59 runs, 5 wickets, and 9 wickets respectively - have put them on brink of elimination with their NRR massively hurt.
After 11 games, even after their defeats to KXIP and KKR, Capitals' NRR was +0.434. Two more defeats later, it dropped to -0.159, below Kings XI, who have an NRR of -0.133 after as many games, but two points less.
"We fell short on reading the wicket," Delhi Capitals skipper Shreyas Iyer said at the end of their 13th game. "We weren't upto the mark right from the start and those wickets in the Powerplay took down the momentum from us. It was important for a few us to come and build a few partnerships but it happened in bits and pieces. There are lots of flaws to be pointed out to, but we gotta believe in ourselves and be strong-headed, also be positive."
"You can't anticipate how it's (the pitch) going to play right from the start. Openers being there, it was important to get a good start, once you get the momentum, you can build on later. I feel 150 or 160 was a good total on such wickets," he added.
Delhi have one more game left in IPL 2020, against Royal Challengers Bangalore, who presently are up against Sunrisers Hyderabad and stand a win away from sealing their first play-off berth since 2016. If the second spot is sealed on Saturday, the fight will be up for the remaining two spots.
Delhi need to win their final game to ensure a place in the knockouts, irrespective of their poor NRR. On losing, a threat looms large not just from KXIP, but also from Rajasthan Royals and KKR, who all have 12 points from 13 games. In such a scenario, it will all be down to NRR to decide the fate of the final two spots and hence the Capitals might just miss out.