AS the celebrations rang though the Mumbai Indians’ camp in Kolkata on Sunday after their 41-run win over Chennai, it was cold comfort for Faf du Plessis that at least he made the final, the last South African standing at the end of the gruelling campaign.
He had made a solid contribution, if not spectacular, scoring 380 runs in 17 matches at an average of 29 in the middle order. And he got game time. His team-mate Kyle Abbott did not take the field once.
From a South African point of view, the talking point in the latter stages of the series, and into the knock-out phase last week, was the rise and fall of AB de Villiers, and the general agreement that No. 3 is his best batting position, certainly in the limited overs format.
With 513 runs from 14 innings, he found he had the time and space to express himself with flair. Which makes it all the more agonising that he should fall flat in the second qualifier, against the Super Kings, in which he scored just one and which saw the Royal Challengers fall away.
The Challengers, though, had become a bit top-heavy, with De Villiers, Gayle (491 runs) and Virat Kohli (505) carrying the burden.
So when, in the second qualifier, the “Big Three” all fell early, the back-up was not sufficient to hold the innings together. Not even David Wiese, who had weighed in with some important cameos throughout the tournaments and ending with 122 runs and 16 wickets from his 14 matches, could do it. But Rilee Rossouw must be wondering what all the IPL fuss is about: he made just two appearances, scoring 14 runs.
Some of the nine South Africans who came back home before the knockouts will be pondering their future, feeling distinctly under-used.
JP Duminy may look back with some regrets as his Daredevils ended seventh of the eight teams on the log, but not for want of trying on his part.