Ranji Trophy 2019-20 is entering its final group-stage round but so far only three teams - Gujarat, Saurashtra and Andhra - have confirmed their berths in the quarter-finals. ESPNcricinfo takes a look at what the other contenders need to do in order to make it to the knockouts.
Elite Groups A and B
Gujarat (29 points) and Saurashtra (28) have enough points already to ensure themselves quarter-finals spots, and even if Andhra (27) lose their last group match, their four wins will be higher than any other side they might end up tied with for the final slot.
That means there are only two more slots to be filled up from Elite Groups A and B, combined. And there are seven teams - Bengal, Karnataka, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Vidarbha and Delhi - still in contention. Here's what each of them needs to do.
Bengal (points 26)
Remaining fixture: v Punjab in Patiala
A win, or even a draw with a first-innings lead, will seal their place in the quarter-finals. Even if Punjab take the first-innings lead, they should be safe, courtesy their superior quotient (1.537). In fact, they can qualify even if they lose, provided Uttar Pradesh don't get a bonus point against Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka either lose or concede a first-innings lead in a draw with Baroda.
Karnataka (points 25)
Remaining fixture: v Baroda in Bengaluru
Ditto. They either need to win or secure a draw with a first-innings lead to qualify for the knockouts. But if Baroda get the first-innings lead, they will have to hope Bengal beat Punjab, UP don't win against Himachal, and Tamil Nadu don't get a bonus point against Saurashtra.
If they lose, they can still qualify if Bengal beat Punjab, UP and Tamil Nadu either draw or lose their games, and Vidarbha and Delhi don't get a bonus point against Hyderabad and Rajasthan respectively.
Bengal and Karnataka are the only teams from the combined group that can qualify even if they lose their games.
Punjab (points 24)
Remaining fixture: v Bengal in Patiala
Punjab's fate is also in their own hands. If they beat Bengal, they qualify. They can also scrape through if they manage a draw with a first-innings lead. In that case, both Punjab and Bengal will end with 27 points, and there is a scenario where Andhra and UP too can finish with 27 points each. Then the quotient will be the tie-breaker.
Uttar Pradesh (points 20)
Remaining fixture: v Himachal Pradesh in Lucknow
A bonus-point win against Himachal will take them to 27 points, but even that will not guarantee them a quarter-final berth. Their best chance is if there is an outright result in the Punjab-Bengal game and Karnataka lose to Baroda or at least concede a first-innings lead in a draw.
But if Karnataka win or take a first-innings lead, they would want Punjab to take a first-innings lead against Bengal in a drawn game, or Andhra to lose to Gujarat. In both those scenarios, there will be multiple teams tied on 27 points with the quotient being the deciding factor.
If UP win without a bonus point, then their best chance is if Bengal beat Punjab, Baroda beat Karnataka and Saurashtra either beat Tamil Nadu or draw with them. In that scenario, they will be through without relying on the quotient. But if Karnataka win and there is an outright winner in the Punjab-Bengal game, UP will be out of the race.
Tamil Nadu (points 19)
Remaining fixture: v Saurashtra in Rajkot
Tamil Nadu also need many other results to go their way. Their best chance is to beat Saurashtra with a bonus point and hope that Karnataka, Punjab and UP lose their respective games. This way they will be on 26 and could be the fifth team to make the cut.
If Tamil Nadu don't win by a bonus point, they can still qualify if Karnataka, Punjab and UP lose their respective matches. In that case, it will be battle of quotients between them and Karnataka (and Vidarbha, if they beat Hyderabad with a bonus point). Right now, Tamil Nadu (1.319) have a higher quotient than both Karnataka (0.969) and Vidarbha (1.126).
Vidarbha (points 18)
Remaining fixture: v Hyderabad in Hyderabad
The two-time defending champions need a slew of results to go their way. The only positives for them are their decent quotient and that they are playing against Hyderabad, who have lost six out of their seven games. Vidarbha must beat Hyderabad either by an innings or by ten wickets, and then hope Karnataka and Punjab lose their games, and UP and TN don't win theirs.
Delhi (points 18)
Remaining fixture: v Rajasthan in Delhi
Despite having the same number points as Vidarbha, their situation is even worse because of a low quotient. They need to beat Rajasthan with a bonus point and then hope Karnataka and Punjab lose their games, UP and TN at the most draw theirs, and if Vidarbha win, it's not with a bonus point. Even after all this, they will have to ensure they end with a higher quotient than Karnataka's. Looks like they need a miracle, right?
Elite Group C
The road to the quarter-finals isn't any simpler in Elite Group C. Five out of the ten teams in the group are battling for the top-two slots. Here's what they need to seal them.
Jammu and Kashmir (points 39)
Remaining fixture: v Haryana in Jammu
If they win or get a first-innings lead against Haryana, they qualify. But even if they lose, they can still progress to the quarter-finals if one of the following is met: a) Odisha either lose to Jharkhand or at the most get a first-innings, or b) Services don't get a bonus point against Chhattisgarh.
Odisha (points 35)
Remaining fixture: v Jharkhand in Cuttack
A victory against Jharkhand will send Odisha through. If they only manage a first-innings lead, they have to hope Services don't win against Chhattisgarh. If Odisha lose to Jharkhand, they need Services to either lose to Chhattisgarh or at least not get a first-innings lead in a draw.
Services (points 33)
Remaining fixture: v Chhattisgarh in Raipur
If Services beat Chhattisgarh with a bonus point, they will want Jammu and Kashmir to lose to Haryana, or Odisha to not win against Jharkhand. If Services get don't a bonus point, they can still go through without bringing the quotient into the picture provided Odisha don't win.
In fact, Services can qualify even if they manage just a first-innings lead, but in such a case Odisha will have to lose and Haryana shouldn't win. In such a case if Odisha manage a draw after a conceding a first-innings lead, or Haryana win without a bonus point, the quotient will become the deciding factor.
Haryana (points 30)
Remaining fixture: v Jammu and Kashmir in Jammu
Haryana need nothing short of a win to give themselves a chance, and even then they will have to depend on others. Their best bet is to beat Jammu and Kashmir with a bonus point, and hope Services don't win and Odisha lose or don't get a first-innings lead in a draw. If Haryana don't get a bonus point, they need both Odisha and Services to lose, else it will come down to the quotient.
Maharashtra (points 28)
Remaining fixture: v Uttarakhand in Baramati
Their only - and very bleak - chance is if they beat Uttarakhand by an innings or ten wickets and then Odisha lose to Jharkhand, Services either lose to Chhattisgarh or don't get a first-innings lead in a draw, and Haryana don't win against Jammu and Kashmir.
Things are much simpler here as only Goa and Puducherry are in the race for the lone quarter-final spot from Plate Group.
Goa (points 43)
Remaining fixture: v Mizoram in Barasat
If Goa win against Mizoram - with or without a bonus point - they will be the one qualifying. But if they just manage a first-innings lead, they should hope Puducherry don't win against Nagaland.
If Goa end up conceding the first-innings lead, they want Puducherry to do the same. Similarly, if Goa lose, they want Puducherry to lose as well.
Puducherry (points 41)
Remaining fixture: v Nagaland in Puducherry
Puducherry's best chance is if they win and Goa don't. If they manage only a first-innings lead, Goa should lose or at the most fetch a draw after conceding a first-innings lead. In the latter case, Puducherry would bank on their superior quotient - 2.225 as compared to Goa's 2.080 - to see them through.