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What do Capitals, Royal Challengers, Knight Riders, Punjab Kings and Sunrisers need to do to qualify

Only two points currently separate the four teams from fourth to seventh spots

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad are in the bottom half of the table  •  BCCI

Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad are in the bottom half of the table  •  BCCI

With just six matches left in the league stage of IPL 2022, here is a look at the scenarios for the five teams which are in the hunt for a playoffs spot but haven't got to 16 points yet.
Delhi Capitals: Mat 13, Pts 14, NRR 0.255
Remaining match: vs Mumbai Indians
Delhi Capitals' comfortable 17-run win against Punjab Kings is good news for them, but not so encouraging for all the other teams trying to sneak into the playoffs. Capitals' net run rate, which was already a healthy 0.210, has gone up to 0.255, but the runs that Kings scored towards the end means that there is still a chance for other teams to catch up, should there be an NRR scramble for the last spot.
From Capitals' point of view, the equation is simple: win the last game against Mumbai Indians on Saturday, and qualify for sure. Even if they lose and stay on 14, they will have a fair chance to qualify if Royal Challengers Bangalore lose to Gujarat Titans. However, if it comes down to NRR, they aren't yet safe.
If Capitals lose their last game by 30 runs (chasing 171), their NRR will fall to 0.123. Currently, Kolkata Knight Riders are on 0.160, so a win by any margin in their last game will keep them above 0.123. If Capitals lose by 15 runs, their NRR will be 0.179. Thus, Capitals could still be on a sticky wicket if they lose to Mumbai. They play their last game after Knight Riders, though, so they will know the equation before they get into that game on Saturday.
Punjab Kings: Mat 13, Pts 12, NRR -0.043
Remaining match: vs Sunrisers
Kings' qualification chances have taken a severe beating with the loss to Capitals. Their NRR has slid into negative space, and even a 40-run win against Sunrisers in their last game (after scoring 170) will only improve it to 0.112. However, big victory margins have been common in the last few games - in seven of the last 12, the winning margin has been greater than 50 runs, while another win came with 31 balls to spare - which should give the Kings some hope.
They also play the last game of the league stage, which means they'll know if they have a chance at all, and exactly what they need to do. Obviously, if Capitals or Royal Challengers win their last match and move to 16 points, then Kings will be knocked out.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Mat 13, Pts 14, NRR -0.323
Remaining match: vs Gujarat Titans
Royal Challengers will need Capitals to lose their last game to stand a chance of qualifying. Even if Royal Challengers score 200 and win their last game by 100 runs, their NRR will only improve to 0.071. Capitals will be well ahead of that if they win by any margin.
And if both these teams lose and stay on 14, Capitals will have to lose by an absurdly high margin for their NRR to slip below that of Royal Challengers. For instances, if Royals Challengers lose by one run, Capitals will have to lose by around 150 (depending on the exact scores).
In other words, Royal Challengers will have to win their last game, against table-toppers Titans, and hope that Capitals lose theirs against bottom-of-the-table Mumbai.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Mat 13, Pts 12, NRR 0.160
Remaining match: vs Lucknow Super Giants
Knight Riders still have a chance of qualifying if they win their last game, and if Capitals and Royal Challengers lose theirs. As mentioned earlier, their relatively healthy NRR means that they are best placed to capitalise if those two teams slip up.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Mat 12, Pts 10, NRR -0.270
Remaining matches: vs Mumbai, Kings
Even if Sunrisers score 170 and win each of their last two games by 40 runs, their NRR will only improve to 0.056. Capitals will have to lose by around 48 runs for their NRR to drop below that. It looks highly unlikely that Sunrisers will progress further in the tournament, but they could do worse than pull off a big win against Mumbai Indians on Tuesday, and keep their slim hopes alive.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats