The closing stages of the IPL’s round-robin phase are almost drawing to a close. With the 10 teams split into two groups- each team playing a cumulative 14 matches- the culminating stages of the league phase are usually when the scramble for the Top 4 is at its most intense. While many would have expected the Big 3- MI, CSK, and KKR- to remain in contention still, this season has been particularly hard on the IPL status-quo. MI and CSK’s seasons have progressed from the poor to deplorable, while KKR barely remains in contention for the eliminators.

Newcomers Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants have taken to the IPL like dogs to a pound, and look set to secure qualification for the next rounds. With two matches remaining for both, one can reasonably expect them to contest the play-offs. Of the remaining 8, Rajashthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore remain best placed to secure the remaining two places. For RCB much will rest on the ongoing match against Punjab Kings. Having lost three on the bounce, Du Plessis’ men need to regather their composure lest they risk losing out. For RR, Jos Buttler has been talismanic, but he has been ably supported by a keen supporting cast- ranging from Sanju Samson to Riyan Parag. With spin twins Ashwin and Chahal in their ranks, the inaugural champions have no dearth of experience. With Lucknow and CSK left to play, RR will back themselves to reach that magic 16-point mark which should ensure qualification to the eliminators.

Of the four looking to pounce on any slip-up, Delhi Capitals look most likely to find themselves in the later rounds. With matches against PBKS and MI remaining, Pant’s side is best placed to pip either RCB or RR above them. The form book also suggests greater consistency on their part, having won three of their last five matches. Aside from DC, PBKS remains in contention, but will first need to win their duels against RCB tonight and DC to stand a chance. As for SRH and KKR, their cause looks rather hopeless. Williamson’s side has been on a wretched four-game losing streak, all but throwing shade on their hopes.

Predicted Top 4: Gujarat Titans, Lucknow Super Giants, Rajasthan Royals, and Delhi Capitals

Play-offs Predictions: Lucknow Super Giants

Eliminator 1 Predictions: Rajasthan Royals

Eliminator 2 Predictions: Gujarat Titans

IPL Winners: Lucknow Super Giants