Mathematically, seven of the nine teams are still in with a chance of making it to the playoffs, but at this stage, I feel it is difficult to look beyond the Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
With a handful of league games to be played, Chennai and Rajasthan are as secure as can be possible, both at 20 points from 14 matches. Mumbai have 18 from 13 and must also feel they have a foot in the playoff door, leaving it to Bangalore and Hyderabad to fight it out for the final playoff berth.
Cricket is a game where very little can be taken for granted, especially in a format such as this where you need to remain consistent over a period of 16 games to earn your entry into the next stage.
I must express my appreciation for those framing the rules, for having embraced the qualifier-eliminator system, first witnessed last season. The playing conditions are such that the teams that finish first and second in the league table play each other in the first qualifier, with the winner going through to the final. The losing team will then play the winner of the eliminator, between the third and fourth-placed teams.
What this has done is reward consistency over a 16-game period. Any team can have a bad day. Imagine a situation where a team has won all its 16 league matches, and then loses one game and crashes out of the tournament. This eliminates the 'sudden death' principle.
Last year, the qualifier-eliminator rule was a success, and I am sure it will be hailed with each passing campaign.
Team leaders have repeatedly spoken about not looking at the points table till now, but from here on, they will follow the table closely.
It is possible that not just points, but also the net run rate will come into play.
Quite often, we can get so caught up in trying to win matches that we lose sight of obvious aspects.
Teams that have minimised the margin of defeat, that have taken the match down to the wire even in a losing cause, will find themselves better off when the NRR comes into the picture.
TCM/HAWKEYE/ The writer is a former India pacer