The play-off berth has already been closed and former champions Chennai Super Kings will look to keep that momentum intact when they take on Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League match here on Saturday.
CSK, led by talisman Mahendra Singh Dhoni, became the first team to clinch a play-off berth with a six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday.
They are currently top of 11 games with 18 points, followed by Delhi Capitals (16 points), Royal Challengers Bangalore (14) and Kolkata Knight Riders (10).
With eight points from 11 games, RR finished second from bottom of the eight teams table and Saturday’s defeat ended their slim chances of qualifying for the knockout stage.
The equation is easy for RR — win the remaining three games beautifully and compete for the fourth play-off spot.
A stronger opponent than CSK, who lost by 38 runs in the first phase of the tournament in Chennai, is waiting for them.
With four consecutive wins under their belt, CSK is on a roll. The Yellow Brigade defeated defending champions Mumbai Indians by 20 runs, followed by Royal Challengers Bangalore (6 wickets), Kolkata Knight Riders (2 wickets) and SRH.
And as the tournament nears its end, the Dhoni-led team will be eager to stay in good form.
On the other hand, nothing was going right for RR, as they suffered hat-trick defeats — by 33 runs over DC and by 7 wickets in a row over bottom-ranked SRH and RCB.
This is now or never for the team led by Sanju Samson as they struggle to arrest the slide and stay afloat.
The CSK batting department has impressed so far in the tournament.
While the South African duo of Faf du Plessis and Ruturaj Gaikwad have exhibited great chemistry, the likes of Moin Ali, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja and Dhoni are key in the middle order.
Young opener Gaikwad is in his lifetime, scoring 40, 38, 88 not out and 45, giving CSK strong starts in power-play.
CSK bowlers Josh Hazelwood, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo and Shardul Thakur also looked after the pace department, while Jadeja and Ali were in charge of the spin unit.
RR, on the other hand, have completely lost their respective rivals in their last three matches.
With the exception of captain Sanju Samson and the successful Jaiswal, many RR batsmen are struggling.
West Indies’ Evin Lewis put up an order against RCB with 58 off 37 balls in the last match.
The RR was severely damaged due to the all-round trio of Chris Morris, Ryan Parag and Rahul Tewatia.
Among the bowlers, Karthik Tyagi, Chetan Zakaria and Mustafizur Rahman did reasonably well, but Morris, the highest paid IPL player this season, disappointed the team.
Rajasthan Royals team: Sanju Samson (capt), Liam Livingstone, Evin Lewis, David Miller, Chris Morris, Oceane Thomas, Mustafizur Rahman, Tabariz Shamsi, Glenn Phillips, Chetan Zakaria, Ryan Parag, Rahul Tewatia, Anu Singh, Aakash Singh Dubey, Shreyas Gopal, Karthik Tyagi, Mayank Markande, Jayadev Unadkat, Kuldeep Yadav, Mahipal Lomrer.
Chennai Super Kings Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, N Jagadeesan, Karn Sharma, Lungi Engidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Sam Curran, R Sai Kishore, Moin Ali, K Gautam, Cheteshwar Pujara, Harishankar Reddy, Bhagat Verma, C Hari Nishant.