- Faf du Plessis, Lungi Ngidi and Imran Tahir wrap up their obligations to bottom-placed Chennai Super Kings on Sunday.
- Quinton de Kock of leaders Mumbai Indians has every chance of pipping Du Plessis as heaviest-scoring SA batsman.
- One win from two round-robin matches will guarantee playoffs status for AB de Villiers' Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Faf du Plessis is unlikely to hang onto his mantle as leading South African run-scorer in the 2020 Indian Premier League.
His basement-level Chennai Super Kings outfit are the only team already eliminated from the tournament - and the right-hander may need to go really big at the crease in their final match on Sunday against Kings XI Punjab to reinforce his position.
Whether the veteran former Proteas captain even plays is uncertain: he sat out their last match, a consolation victory over Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday.
Du Plessis currently sports 401 runs at an average of 40.10 to lie seventh overall among top tournament run-scorers (the near-runaway leader is Indian star KL Rahul of the Kings XI with 595 at 59.50).
But compatriot Quinton de Kock - by stark contrast, representing the only confirmed playoffs qualifiers thus far, table-topping Mumbai Indians - is breathing right down his neck in ninth overall with 392 runs at 39.20 and the guarantee of significantly further life in IPL 2020.
Even before the now-sealed playoffs spot, Mumbai have two further round-robin fixtures to negotiate, so there is every chance De Kock, the new SA white-ball skipper, will leapfrog his long-time national team-mate.
AB de Villiers is also still a dark horse to top the runs race among the South Africans: he has 339 from one innings less (11) than either of Du Plessis and De Kock, at an average of 48.42 and blistering strike rate of 171.
His Royal Challengers Bangalore side also have two round-robin tussles to go, and need just one win from them to be assured of a playoffs berth.
With Mumbai through and CSK eliminated, six teams are effectively fighting for three remaining knockout spots, although the dice looks loaded against the Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals (David Miller’s team) making the cut from here.
The luckless Miller has played only one match so far - run out for a duck without facing a ball - although the Royals have two league-phase matches left.
Once CSK have played their closing game on Sunday, Du Plessis and fast bowler Lungi Ngidi will have completed their IPL obligations and presumably return to bolster the domestic franchise scene (the four-day competition begins on Monday) as quickly as possible.
Ngidi has played only three times at the IPL, earning six wickets for 128, albeit at an expensive economy rate of 10.66.
The other Proteas player on CSK’s books, 41-year-old leg-spinner Imran Tahir, has just signed to play for Melbourne Rebels after Christmas in the Big Bash League, but is expected to be available for SA in the T20 portion of England’s two-format visit next month.
As with De Villiers, in-form pacemen Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje of Delhi Capitals know that one further victory from two opportunities for their side will seal a knockout berth.
Rabada tops the wickets chart with 23 at 16.86, and has a cushion of at least three wickets over any nearest challengers, while Nortje lies joint-eighth with 15 at 22.86.
The 37-year-old Dale Steyn may be fortunate to see further action at the IPL: the strike legend’s three, sporadic appearances for RCB have seen him take one wicket at a cost of 133 runs (11.4 overs) and show an economy rate of 11.40.
*The round-robin phase of the IPL continues through to Tuesday, with the playoffs beginning on Thursday and the final (in Dubai) scheduled for 10 November.
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing