After 50 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 six 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, Mumbai and Kings XI Punjab to know if they’ve qualified, with a real possibility of them slipping out of the top four should those three 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
MUMBAI INDIANS (4th)
Matches: 13 | Won: 6 | Lost: 7 | Points: 12 | NRR: +0.384
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 the resurgence up the table, Jasprit Bumrah earning player of the match in their last victory over Kings XI which skyrocketed the Indians into the final four.
They accomplished their first non-negotiable task, defeating Kings XI to keep their qualifying hopes alive, and will face bottom-placed Delhi to lock in their spot. Their net run rate – which is the highest in the competition – is what gives them a slight advantage in the playoff race, with the Mahela Jayawardene-coached team in the box seat to secure the final place in the top four.
Remaining fixtures: vs. Delhi Daredevils (Sunday)
Australian players: Ben Cutting
RAJASTHAN ROYALS (5th)
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 fifth spot in the table. They secured three straight victories at the peak of their powers on the back of Jos Buttler’s stunning resurgence to form, where the Englishman outscored the rest of his side combined, to catapult themselves from the bottom of the table into the playoffs race.
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. They’ll also need Delhi to pull of an unlikely victory over the Indians to leave the door open on the playoffs. Should they lose to Virat Kohli’s side, it will be the end of the campaign for the Ajinkya Rahane-led team with Mumbai holding a far superior net run rate on the same points.
Remaining fixtures: vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore (Saturday)
Australian players: D’Arcy Short, Ben Laughlin
KINGS XI PUNJAB (6th)
Matches: 13 | Won: 6 | Lost: 7 | Points: 12 | NRR: -0.490
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 seven matches saw just a sole victory over the Rajasthan Royals, with nobody able to partner with KL Rahul in the batting order, Punjab’s net run rate the worst in the league. After their recent 10-wicket loss to the Royal Challengers, they dropped out of the top of the table for the first time in the tournament and further plummeted in a tightly-contested loss to Mumbai.
Kings XI – who haven’t featured in the qualifiers since 2014 – have just one match to atone for their poor run of form, with a spot in the final four dependant on both Mumbai and Rajasthan stumbling and Kings XI prevailing over Chennai. A loss would confirm another season without playoffs action.
Remaining fixtures: vs. Chennai Super Kings (Monday)
Australian players: Aaron Finch, Andrew Tye, Marcus Stoinis, Ben Dwarshuis
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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