Bangalore: Less than a week left in the league stage of the Pepsi IPL 2013, three teams have 18 or more points. In 2012, the fourth team to qualify for the playoffs - Chennai Super Kings - did so with just 17 points.
Yet, things are so competitive in the top half of the table in 2013 that even the top two teams on the table at present aren't guaranteed a passage through to the last four. Chennai are sitting at the top with 20 points and a Net Run-Rate that is ahead of Rajasthan Royals by the wafer thin margin of 0.045.
While it's not possible for any combination of four other teams to beat Chennai and Rajasthan on points alone, NRR could end up playing a crucial role in qualification. Technically, the two table-toppers are still not assured of a playoff spot. In fact, the only thing that's guaranteed at this point is that neither Delhi Daredevils and Pune Warriors India are in the qualification race.