A look at the possible scenarios ahead of the final five league matches of the IPL.
Deccan Chargers' excellent run-chase against Punjab has brightened their semi-final prospects, but their poor net run rate of -0.363 means that they have some way to go yet before being assured of a berth in the last four. With five matches to go, they could be knocked out if a few scenarios happen:
- If Rajasthan and Chennai win their last matches and if Delhi beat Deccan, there could be, depending on Bangalore's result against Mumbai, four teams tied on 14 and fighting for two places, or three teams on 14 battling for the last spot. In such a scenario, their NRR will almost certainly knock Deccan out.
- Alternatively, if Kolkata win their last two, they'll move up to 14 as well, and you'd expect their net run rate to come close to, or exceed, Deccan's as well. It'll again come down to NRR, where Deccan will struggle.
Deccan's best-case scenario of making the last four even if they lose to Delhi, will be this: Chennai lose to Punjab, and Kolkata beat Rajasthan but lose to Mumbai. Then Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Deccan will go through on points, without NRR coming into play.
Bangalore are almost certainly through, thanks to their excellent NRR, but things are much tighter for some of the other teams. Chennai and Rajasthan face must-win situations going into their last game, while Kolkata must win both their matches. Chennai's superior NRR means that a win by almost any margin should see them through regardless of other results, but that doesn't hold for the other teams.
Rajasthan could win their final game and yet be knocked out if Chennai win their final game and if Delhi and Bangalore finish ahead of them (on points or NRR). On the other hand, Rajasthan's best chance will be for Chennai to lose to Punjab, and for Delhi to beat Deccan, so that Rajasthan will have the relatively easier task of edging out Deccan on NRR.
Kolkata need to win their last two, and then hope that Chennai and Deccan lose too. Their current NRR is languishing at -0.632, but two wins could push it beyond Deccan's, especially if Deccan lose to Delhi. However, if Chennai win, then Kolkata and Rajasthan will almost certainly be knocked out.
Delhi, meanwhile, are reasonably well-placed, but if they lose to Deccan, and if Chennai beat Punjab, then the three teams from south India will all progress, along with Mumbai. Unlike Kolkata and Rajasthan, though, Delhi's fate rests entirely in their hands - beat Deccan, and sail through to the semis regardless of other results.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo