The final week of the Indian Premier League is not a place for also-rans, and that is just what the Kochi Tuskers Kerala may end up as - barring a miraculous finish to the season.
The Tuskers play the final regular season game of their maiden IPL campaign against defending champions Chennai Super Kings at the MA Chidambaram stadium here on Wednesday.
Mathematically, they may still have a chance, but number-crunching doesn't win games. Two points behind fourth-placed Kolkata Knight Riders, who have two games in hand, what hurts the Tuskers' chances even more is their poor net run-rate and the Knight Riders' healthy one.
Thus, the Tuskers are in the most unenviable position any sports team can be in, having to pin their hopes on the performance of others.
Of course, all these permutations and combinations will count for nothing if the Tuskers fail to accomplish the one task they have control over - winning their last league match.
A win over the Rajasthan Royals delayed the inevitable by a few days but come Wednesday there will be no place to hide.
The Tuskers' chances have been hurt further by the absence of skipper Mahela Jayawardene, who left to join the touring Sri Lanka team in England. In his absence, former CSK opener Parthiv Patel will lead the team. The wicketkeeper played down his team's chances of making it to the playoffs but wanted to end the campaign on a high. "We still have a chance to make the grade. But, you know that it is a very slim one. We have won six games despite not having any big names in the side, and this is a first year franchise. We played very good cricket, and some bad cricket as well. This is the last league game and we would like to finish on a high," said Patel.
But CSK's impressive home record this season - they are unbeaten at Chepauk in this edition - can't boost the Tuskers' confidence.
"We are proud of our home record. We've also worked very hard to maintain this. We haven't taken our mind off the game… it's nice to be playing at home and we'd like to end the season with a perfect record here," CSK coach Stephen Fleming said.
The champions have been further strengthened by the arrival of West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, who took two crucial wickets in his first game of the season against the Delhi Daredevils.