Amidst the rejigging of the Pakistan Super League schedule and the decision to host the remaining games behind closed doors, the tournament has entered a rather riveting stage with all sides vying for three spots up for grabs for the semi-finals.
Only three league phase games are due to be held but no side has yet been eliminated from the competition. Table-toppers Multan Sultans are the only team to have secured a semi-final berth as the race to finish in the top four heats up. Here's a look at the different qualification scenarios that emerge for the other five PSL franchises.
Matches: 8, Points: 9, NRR: -0.027
The Imad Wasim-led Karachi Kings had a fine start to their tournament campaign but have gotten slightly off-track in the latter half, suffering a series of defeats.
How they can qualify: Karachi can still stamp their authority in the points table by claiming even a single win from their last two clashes against Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators, effectively helping them seal the second spot.
In the event of two losses, the Kings would want Lahore Qalandars to face defeat to the Sultans. This would leave them tied at nine points alongside Peshawar Zalmi, United and Gladiators. On net run rate, the Kings would then edge Gladiators and most likely finish on the fourth spot. If Qalandars achieve a victory against Sultans and Karachi crash to defeat in their last two matches, the Kings and Gladiators would be eliminated unless the margin of losses for Karachi are very narrow, that in turn would leave their NRR a little bit better than Zalmi.
Matches: 10, Points: 9, NRR: -0.055
Zalmi have been dealt the heaviest blow due to the recent exodus of several overseas players from the league. Despite fielding an all-local XI against Sultans on Friday, Peshawar looked on course for a surprise win before imploding in the final five overs of their chase.
How they can qualify: The best case for Peshawar is that Qalandars are left stranded on eight points. This will allow them to move ahead of Quetta and Karachi in light of the teams' poor NRR. If Qalandars triumph over Sultans, they would be hoping Karachi win both their games to make it easy advancement to the knockouts for them. Even if the Kings prevail over United and lose to Gladiators, Zalmi will qualify.
Matches: 9, Points: 8, NRR: -0.175
Lahore Qalandars' late resurgence in the tournament has breathed a new life into the team and their passionate fan base. However, the abject 10-wicket defeat to Karachi has meant Lahore may well end up at the bottom of the points table for the fifth time in a row if things don't work out for them.
How they can qualify: A win on Sunday against the Sultans puts Qalandars in the semi-finals. A loss, though, would put them at the mercy of other results going their way. In the case of a defeat, Lahore would ironically want Karachi to win both of their games, otherwise, their tally of eight points will be inferior to either Islamabad United or Quetta Gladiators' hypothetical sum of nine points.
Matches: 9, Points: 7, NRR: 0.259
The two-time winners of the PSL have also been sharply affected by the likes of Colin Munro, Dale Steyn and Luke Ronchi leaving the league at this stage.
How they can qualify: Islamabad's positive NRR gives them a lot of advantage as compared to other teams in the six-team table. All hopes of qualifying will collapse if they lose against the Kings but a win virtually guarantees them a place in the top four. United can also leapfrog to the second position if Zalmi, Kings and Quetta are also at nine points and Lahore fail to march to victory over Sultans.
Matches: 9, Points: 7, NRR: -1.052
The defending champions' hopes of progressing to the next round hang by the thread. Their sole silver lining is the fact that a part of their core overseas contingent is still in the country.
How they can qualify: Quetta's abysmal NRR means the only way they can make it to the semis is if United and Qalandars both lose their respective encounters while Gladiators win against the Kings. This would help them carve out a spot for themselves in the fourth place, capping off a miraculous comeback in the competition.