Shane Warne has led an outstanding campaign so far for Rajasthan, but they haven't quite made it to the last four © Getty Images

With eight wins in ten games, Rajasthan Royals are sitting pretty at the top of the table. In all probability they'll seal a place in the top four, but as things stand after 40 games of the IPL, there's still a chance - however slim - that they won't make the cut. Here's one scenario which explains how they might still miss out on a semi-final slot:

  • Rajasthan have four matches to go, against Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Punjab. If they lose all four, they'll remain on 16 points.
  • Mumbai are the only team to have played only nine games. Their five remaining ones are against Deccan, Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan and Bangalore. Win all, and they leapfrog to the top of the table with 20 points. Even with one loss, they'll be among the top teams with 18 points.
  • Kolkata have four games to go, against Chennai, Rajasthan, Delhi and Punjab. Four wins will prop them up to 18 points.
  • Chennai have played ten too, and will face Kolkata, Bangalore, Rajasthan, and Deccan. Lose the first and win the next three, and Chennai will finish with 18 points.
  • Saturday's win against Delhi pushed Punjab to second place with 14 points in ten games. Their remaining games are against Mumbai, Deccan, Kolkata and Rajasthan. If they beat Deccan and Rajasthan, Punjab will join Kolkata and Chennai on 18 points.
  • In such a scenario, Mumbai will top the table with 20 points, while Kolkata, Chennai, and Punjab will all be tied on 18. Rajasthan will then slip to a clear fifth place with 16 points, and will be out of the reckoning for a semi-final berth.

    Possible points table according to the results above
    Team Played Won Lost Points
    Mumbai 14 10 4 20
    Kolkata 14 9 5 18
    Chennai 14 9 5 18
    Punjab 14 9 5 18
    Rajasthan 14 8 6 16
    Delhi 14 6 8 12
    Deccan 14 3 11 6
    Bangalore 14 2 12 4

    Even if the results don't go exactly to plan, there are still possibilities of five teams finishing on 16 or more points, with a couple of them tied on 16. In that case, net run rates will come into the picture to break the deadlock. Also, if Rajasthan beat Mumbai but the other results go according to the scenario above, there'll still be five teams tied on 18 points, again bringing the net run rate into play.

    S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo