After 49 matches, seven of the eight Indian Premier League teams are still in contention to feature in the playoffs stage of the competition.
In a closely fought season, only two sides – Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings – have earned qualification to the final four, leaving the remaining two spots up for grabs.
With seven round-robin matches remaining, cricket.com.au takes a look at each contender's remaining fixtures and what needs to happen for the franchise to make the playoffs.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS (3rd)
Matches: 13 | Won: 7 | Lost: 6 | Points: 14 | NRR: -0.096
Kolkata are in the prime position to secure one of the two remaining playoffs spots, having dispatched fellow contender Mumbai Indians by six wickets and earning a two-point break from their nearest rivals on the table. They have just one match remaining with a win over ladder-leaders Sunrisers Hyderabad guaranteeing them a spot in the qualifiers.
Should they lose their final fixture, they’ll have to await the results of Rajasthan and Kings XI Punjab to know if they’ve qualified, with a real possibility of them slipping out of the top four should those two franchises win their last matches by big margins.
The Knight Riders – led by India international Dinesh Karthik – are one of just two sides to have won their previous two matches with the playoffs on the line, while their ranks feature T20 stars including Chris Lynn, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine.
Remaining fixtures: vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad (Sunday)
Australian players: Chris Lynn, Mitchell Johnson
RAJASTHAN ROYALS (4th)
Matches: 13 | Won: 6 | Lost: 7 | Points: 12 | NRR: -0.399
The returning Rajasthan side – mentored by Australia great Shane Warne – have mounted a stunning comeback to currently sit in fourth spot in the table. They secured three straight victories at the peak of their powers on the back of Jos Buttler’s stunning resurgence of form, where the Englishman outscored the rest of his side combined to catapult his team from the bottom of the table into the playoffs race.
Like Kolkata, the Royals have one remaining match against fellow contender Royal Challengers Bangalore with a victory giving them a slight edge on their nearest competitor Kings XI Punjab due to a superior net run rate. Should they lose to Virat Kohli’s side, they’ll need Kings XI to beat Mumbai as well as hope the Indians lose their second remaining match to have any chance of making the qualifiers.
Remaining fixtures: vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore (Saturday)
Australian players: D’Arcy Short, Ben Laughlin
KINGS XI PUNJAB (5th)
Matches: 12 | Won: 6 | Lost: 6 | Points: 12 | NRR: -0.518
After winning five of their first six fixtures and being well entrenched in the top four, the wheels fell off for the Brad Hodge-coached side. Their next six matches saw just a sole victory over the Rajasthan Royals, with nobody able to partner with KL Rahul in the batting order, and their net run rate is currently the worst in the league. After their most recent 10-wicket loss to the Royal Challengers, they dropped out of the top four for the first time in the tournament.
Kings XI – who haven’t featured in the qualifiers since 2014 – have two matches to atone for their poor run of form, with two victories guaranteeing them a spot in the final four. Should they drop one, they’ll need both the Royals and Indians to lose a match, with two losses for the Punjab side meaning it’ll be lights out once more for another season.
Remaining fixtures: vs. Mumbai Indians (Thursday), vs. Chennai Super Kings (Monday)
Australian players: Aaron Finch, Andrew Tye, Marcus Stoinis, Ben Dwarshuis
MUMBAI INDIANS (6th)
Matches: 12 | Won: 5 | Lost: 7 | Points: 10 | NRR: +0.405
The reigning champions left the door ajar on the playoffs after a run of three straight victories for Rohit Sharma’s side. Their opening pair of Suryakumar Yadav and Evin Lewis have played pivotal roles in their resurgence but still need results to fall their way to make the qualifiers.
Firstly, they’ll need to defeat Kings XI in their next fixture and then rely on that team, in addition to Rajasthan, both losing their final matches for Mumbai to sneak in. Their net run rate – which is the highest in the competition – is what gives them a slight advantage in the playoff race, as well as a fixture against bottom-placed Delhi still to come.
Remaining fixtures: vs. Kings XI Punjab (Thursday), vs. Delhi Daredevils (Sunday)
Australian players: Ben Cutting
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE (7th)
Matches: 12 | Won: 5 | Lost: 7 | Points: 10 | NRR: +0.218
Despite a tough road to the playoffs, the Royal Challengers still have a mathematical chance to secure one of the two remaining playoff spots. They’ll need a flurry of results to fall in their favour, namely Mumbai defeating Kings XI before needing both of those sides to lose their final matches. In addition, they’ll need to win both of their matches with their net run rate to help their cause, just one of four sides to be in the positive in that category and just one of two of the contenders.
Virat Kohli’s side have made the qualifiers just three times in their 11-year history and are yet to claim a trophy in the tournament. Despite boasting Kolhi and AB de Villiers, their early losses are hurting them at this stage of the competition with a mountain of work for Bangalore to do to capitalise on a late charge.
Remaining fixtures: vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad (Friday), vs. Rajasthan Royals (Saturday)
Australian players: Nil
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