The new IPL play-off structure makes no sense at all

Team 1 finishes first in the league, team 2 finishes second and so till fourth

What is the advantage that the team 1 has over team 2 when it comes to their path to the finals?

Absolutely nothing. They play each other to decide the finalists. And the loser plays the winner of the 3rd Vs 4th match-up to decide the second finalist.

If team 1 and team 2 swap places, neither team gains nor loses anything.

The same equality is maintained between teams finishing in 3rd and 4th place. They wouldn’t mind swapping.

Now compare team2 and team 3.

In purely probabilistic terms – if each team has an equal chance of winning a game – team 2 has a 75% chance of reaching the final. Team 3 on the other hand has a 25% chance of making the finals.

Team 3, therefore, is three times more likely to make the final. That is quite an advantage.

To sum it up, there is no extra advantage if you finish top instead of second or finish in third instead of fourth.

But you have a mammoth advantage if you finish second in the league instead of third. If anyone is willing, then I am ready to take a wager that the top two teams will make the finals.

Some of you might have a problem with the fact that I gave every team an equal chance of winning a play-off game. It is very reasonable given the quirky nature of Twenty-20 cricket. But for the sake of argument, we will assign a higher winning probability – 55% – to the team which finished higher in the league.

The chances of making the finals are now

Team 1 – 80%
Team 2 – 75%
Team 3 – 25%
Team 4 – 20%

See that. I am a trained mathematician so I am confident of having done the math right. But you can get the numbers verified if you doubt my academic credentials.

I am still willing to take the wager. You can tweak the probability of winning the game but it doesn’t change the bare fact.

The system creates two sets of teams. Within the sets, there is hardly any difference in terms of their chances but between the two of them there is a world of difference. And that is unfair.

What is the best way of doing it?

There should be a best of 3 series from the knock-out round onwards. The higher ranked team gets to play two games at home including the decider. They have an advantage in that sense but they shouldn’t be given a chance to make the final on a platter.

That is what the current system does and that is completely unfair.


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