Tight race for two remaining Group A spots
With just one round of matches to go in the Ranji Trophy group stage, several teams are still in the hunt for a quarter-final spot, with only two teams - Punjab and Uttar Pradesh - certain of making the next stage. Here's what each team needs to do to progress.
Current situation: Punjab are the only team from the group to have played all eight, and are sitting pretty on 32 points. However, most of the other teams are bunched together, with eight points separating the second-placed Gujarat (21) from the seventh-ranked Bengal (13).
Punjab - 32 points in eight matches; all matches played
Punjab have played all their matches, and are the only team to win four games in the group stage. Not only have they qualified, they've also assured themselves of the top spot in their group, regardless of other results: Gujarat, the next-best team in the group, have only 21 points.
Gujarat - 21 points in seven matches; last match v Mumbai
Gujarat are in second place, but only just, as two teams are on 20 and one more on 17. Gujarat's last match is a tough one - they play away against Mumbai - but they are currently on a roll, having won their last two games, including most recently against table-toppers Punjab. With Mumbai being one of the teams on 20, their clash will be a key one in deciding the final standings in the group. A first-innings lead - and three points to go with it - will ensure Gujarat will progress without depending on other results, but anything less, and they'll progress only if other results go their way. If Gujarat concede a first-innings lead, they'll fall behind Mumbai, and could also slip below Saurashtra or Madhya Pradesh. Those two teams will play each other in what will be the other vital match in the group.
Madhya Pradesh - 20 points in 7 matches; last match v Saurashtra
Despite the agonising seven-run loss to Mumbai in their previous match, Madhya Pradesh are still in the hunt for a place in the last eight. However, that defeat could prove costly if they don't at least take the first-innings lead against Saurashtra. If they take only one point from the game, Madhya Pradesh might still qualify as the third team with 21 points. For that to happen, though, other results, and the quotient (runs per wicket scored divided by runs per wicket conceded) will have to go their way.
Mumbai - 20 points in 7 matches; last match v Gujarat
Mumbai's narrow win against Madhya Pradesh was their first win of the season, and it gave them much-needed points to keep their qualification hopes alive. Their last match - a home game - is against Gujarat, who are a point ahead of them. To be sure of qualification, Mumbai need to take at least first-innings points from the game. That'll push them up to 23 points, and reduce Gujarat to 22. With Madhya Pradesh playing Saurashtra, only one of those two teams can go past 23. However, if Mumbai take only one point from the game, they'll be knocked out, as they'll then finish with only one win in the season; Madhya Pradesh have 20 points as well, but with two wins. If those two teams finish with the same points, Madhya Pradesh will go through.
Saurashtra - 17 points in 7 matches; last match v Madhya Pradesh
Saurashtra are currently in fourth position, and can move up to the top three only with an outright win. They'll then finish with at least 23 points, and will be certain of a quarter-final position. Anything less, though, and they won't have a chance of qualifying.
Railways - 15 points in 7 matches; last match v Bengal
Railways must win their match, preferably with a bonus point, and then hope that other results go their way as well. If they win without a bonus point they'll finish with 21, which can at best put them in joint third place if Mumbai lose to Gujarat and if Madhya Pradesh take only one point from their match against Saurashtra (in which case Saurashtra will have a maximum of 20). Then, the quotient of the two teams - Railways and Madhya Pradesh - will be the deciding factor. If Railways win with a bonus point and finish on 22, they can finish among the top three if two out of Gujarat, Mumbai, Madhya Pradesh and Saurashtra don't go past 22 points.
Bengal, Hyderabad and Rajasthan have no chance of qualifying. Bengal have 13 points, which can at best go up to 20, but Punjab and Gujarat already have more than 20. If Madhya Pradesh take at least a point from their game, they'll go past 20 as well; if they lose to Saurashtra and take away 0 points from that game, then Saurashtra, currently on 17, will go past 20. However, there'll still be the motivation to give off their best, as the bottom-ranked team will be relegated to group C.
Current situation: Uttar Pradesh are on top with 27, while Baroda, the only team to have played all eight matches, are second on 22. However, only six points separates the third-placed Vidarbha from the eighth-ranked Haryana. Click here for details.
Current situation: Services have a five-point lead over the second-placed Andhra Pradesh (26 points to 21). However, only eight points separate Andhra from the eighth-ranked Goa (13). Also, only two teams will qualify for the quarter-finals from this group. Click here for details.
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter