The Chennai Super Kings have already hurt the playoff chances of two teams in a row - the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore - and in their path next are the Kings XI Punjab, who need to win to stay alive. With the burden of qualifying lifted off their shoulders, the Super Kings have nothing to lose in their last game and a win may even give them a chance of not finishing bottom of the table.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad's win has pushed the Kings XI Punjab down to fifth place now but Kings XI's net run rate is better than both the Royal Challengers Bangalore's and the Delhi Capitals'. To qualify, the Kings now need to beat the Super Kings to finish on 14 points which will take them higher than the loser of the Capitals-Royal Challengers clash on Monday.
At the same time, the Kings XI will also hope the winner of the Rajasthan Royals-Kolkata Knight Riders game on Sunday doesn't go above them on net run-rate, in case the Sunrisers win their last league game. If the Sunrisers lose, Kings XI will be through by winning on Sunday.
Sunday's game may not be the toughest among Kings XI's recent challenges though. A lot of the Super Kings players aren't firing which means the Kings XI can mainly focus on their recent match-winners: Ruturaj Gaikwad, one of Super Kings' future prospects, Ravindra Jadeja, for his finishing skills and economical bowling, and Sam Curran's wicket-taking abilities.
This being a day game on Sunday, the Kings XI don't need to worry about the dew, which, KL Rahul said, hurt them in their last game while bowling second. Chris Gayle's recent six-hitting ability bodes well for them but they also need to prepare for the possibility of their middle order doing the hard work if they lose both Rahul and Gayle early, especially if they are without Mayank Agarwal and/or Mandeep Singh.
Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis tore into the Kings XI bowlers while chasing 179 in Dubai almost four weeks ago and handed them a 10-wicket drubbing. A lot has changed since then, though, for both teams.
In the news
There's a possibility, no matter how small, that the Kings XI will be without both Agarwal and Mandeep. Agarwal hurt his leg during the game against the Delhi Capitals more than 10 days ago and was expected to be fit for Friday's game but didn't feature in the XI. Mandeep, meanwhile, got hit on his glove by a nasty short delivery from Jofra Archer during his one-ball stay on Friday, and his fitness update is awaited. In case both are unavailable, Kings XI can open with Rahul and Gayle, and bring in Sarfaraz Khan for Mandeep in the XI.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 2 Shane Watson/Faf du Plessis, 3 Ambati Rayudu, 4 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 5 N Jagadeesan, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Sam Curran, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Karn Sharma, 11 Lungi Ngidi
Kings XI Punjab: 1 Mayank Agarwal/Mandeep Singh, 2 KL Rahul (capt, wk), 3 Chris Gayle, 4 Nicholas Pooran, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Deepak Hooda, 7 Chris Jordan, 8 M Ashwin, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Ravi Bishnoi, 11 Arshdeep Singh
Since the Super Kings have been rotating some of the older players, they could this time leave out Shane Watson for Faf du Plessis, who has an impressive record against two bowlers the Kings XI have been opening with recently: Mohammed Shami (57 off 29) and Glenn Maxwell (43 off 28). Watson has also scored only 18 runs off the 26 balls he has faced from Shami in T20s.
Given the two hard-hitting left-hand batsmen in Kings XI's line-up - Gayle and Pooran - the Super Kings can save Jadeja's left-arm spin mainly for the right-hand batsmen. Jadeja could bowl in the powerplay if Rahul opens with Agarwal or Mandeep, and can be kept for Glenn Maxwell thereafter. Maxwell has been dismissed as many as five times by Jadeja in the 44 balls he has faced while scoring 58 runs.
Stats that matter
If Curran scores 14 more runs in the next game, he will become just the fourth Super Kings player to score 200-plus runs and take 10-plus wickets in a season. Albie Morkel (2008), Dwayne Bravo (2012) and Jadeja (2013) are the others.
Jadeja has the fourth-best strike rate this season while batting (minimum 150 runs) but it has also been his worst season with the ball for the Super Kings, taking only five wickets with an economy rate of 9.03.
The Kings XI have not won even once in Abu Dhabi so far. The Super Kings have won only one of their three games there.