AB de Villiers’ eight iconic innings in limited-overs cricket

AB de Villiers smashed 133 not out off 59 balls against the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015. It was yet another audacious show of batting put up by the South Africa, who is now perhaps the best batsman across formats. Nishad Pai Vaidya picks some of de Villiers’ most high-voltage knocks in limited-overs cricket.

1:  149 off 44 balls vs West Indies at Johannesburg, second ODI, 2015

This was a career defining innings for the South African genius © Getty Images
This was a career defining innings for the South African genius © Getty Images

This was a career defining innings for the South African genius. Shahid Afridi’s record for the fastest One-Day International (ODI) ton in 37 balls remained in tact for close to 18 years. On New Year’s Day, Corey Anderson beat it with a 36-ball ton. But, a year down the line, de Villiers smashed a hapless West Indies attack to plunder a hundred off 31 balls. Batting first, South Africa were 247 for one in the 39th over when de Villiers walked out. The openers had put on a show, but that paled into relative insignificance by the magic of de Villiers. From the word go, de Villiers smashed everything in sight, getting down on one knee and hoicking, scooping and lofting in his trademark fashion. By the time he was out, South Africa had powered to 439, the second highest score in ODI history.
 

2:  162 off 66 balls vs West Indies at Sydney, ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

West Indies were mauled yet again — this time on the world stage © Getty Images
West Indies were mauled yet again — this time on the world stage © Getty Images

West Indies were mauled yet again — this time on the world stage! On this occasion, de Villiers walked in at 146 for three in the 29th over. He then dished out the most brutal treatment to the clueless West Indian bowlers. His knock powered South Africa to 408. De Villiers carted 17 fours and eight sixes. To put his innings in perspective, one must break up West Indies skipper Jason Holder’s figures. In his first five overs upfront, Holder conceded only nine runs and took a wicket. In his last five, he was smashed for 95 runs. His figures ultimately read 104 for one in 10 overs.
 

3:  47 off 17 balls vs Deccan Chargers, IPL 2012

This was perhaps the first sighting of de Villiers’ freakish abilities © AFP
This was perhaps the first sighting of de Villiers’ freakish abilities © AFP

This was perhaps the first sighting of de Villiers’ freakish abilities. When he took on Dale Steyn, the most dreaded fast bowler in the world, de Villiers raised the bar higher. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) needed 39 off the last 18 balls against Deccan Chargers when Steyn got the ball. He tried everything in the book, but de Villiers carted Steyn around the park. A yorker was smoked over cover for a six. Steyn’s over cost him 23 runs and de Villiers took his team home quite easily.
 

4:  41 off 11 balls vs Mumbai Indians, IPL 2015

RCB needed impetus as they tried to overhaul a big score put up by the Mumbai Indians © AFP
RCB needed impetus as they tried to overhaul a big score put up by the Mumbai Indians © AFP

In a game where Chris Gayle struggled at the beginning of the run-chase, RCB needed impetus as they tried to overhaul a big score put up by the Mumbai Indians. They turned to the pyrotechnics of de Villiers to turn things around. Smashing almost every other ball to the boundary, he reignited his team’s hopes and made a mess of the bowlers. Maintaining his balance and a good head position, he lofted, cut and pulled with ease. He had raced to 41 off 10 balls before he was dismissed. Although they lost, de Villiers’ blinder will forever remain etched in memory.
 

5:  133 not out off 59 balls vs Mumbai Indians, IPL 2015

That 11-ball 41 was a precursor of things to come  © AFP
That 11-ball 41 was a precursor of things to come © AFP

That 11-ball 41 was a precursor of things to come. Mumbai Indians were in for a more deadly assault when RCB visited them later in the IPL 2015 season. Walking in to bat at the fall of Gayle’s wicket, de Villiers started off slowly and then shifted gears. Initially, he played good conventionally shots to pick boundaries easily. As the innings progressed, he expanded his range. Even the widish deliveries on the off side disappeared over cover. The scoops also made regular appearance as he got his ton with two consecutive sixes. In partnership with Virat Kohli, de Villiers put up 215 runs, which remains the highest partnership in T20 cricket. They went on to score 235 for one in 20 overs, which was out of Mumbai Indians’ reach.
 

6:  102 off 59 balls vs India, 3rd ODI, 2010

At the age of 26, de Villiers was gradually building his reputation as one of the best batsmen in the world © Getty Images
At the age of 26, de Villiers was gradually building his reputation as one of the best batsmen in the world © Getty Images

At the age of 26, de Villiers was gradually building his reputation as one of the best batsmen in the world. This ton came at Ahmedabad, in the third ODI against India, who had already won the series. De Villiers had hit a ton in the second game, but it was Sachin Tendulkar’s historic 200 not out that was spoken about. In this game, de Villiers batted at No. 4 and smashed the bowling to all parts. In 59 balls, he scored 102 not out. Walking in to bat at 192 for two in the 33rd over, he took them to 365. What stood out about this hundred was the way he kept the tempo going. Over the years, he has produced more outstanding knocks, but this one remains forgotten. It came in a year where he won the ICC ODI Player of the Year.
 

7:  31 off 8 balls vs Pune Warriors India, IPL 2013

When a man scores 175 not out in a T20 game, he will grab the headlines © AFP
When a man scores 175 not out in a T20 game, he will grab the headlines © AFP

When a man scores 175 not out in a T20 game, he will grab the headlines. Gayle’s 175 not out off 66 balls was a mind-boggling knock. Interestingly, de Villiers finished with a higher strike-rate in that innings as he hit 31 off only eight balls. Had he continued, Yuvraj Singh’s record of the fastest fifty in T20 cricket was in danger. Though Pune Warriors India were demoralised, de Villiers needed all his skill to smash those sixes and fours. The remarkable thing is that six out of the eight balls were hit for boundaries. Yet again, this is one innings not many will remember because of Gayle’s historic knock.
 

8:  89 off 41 balls vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2014

Almost two years to the day de Villiers tore into Steyn at Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium © AFP
Almost two years to the day de Villiers tore into Steyn at Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium © AFP

AB de Villiers vs Dale Steyn – II. Almost two years to the day de Villiers tore into Steyn at Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium. Chasing 156, RCB collapsed to 38 for three in the seventh over when de Villiers walked in. In the 15th over, they lost Yuvraj Singh with the score on 95. De Villiers, who was on 33 off 19 balls then, turned it on. Along with Mitchell Starc, he put up 57 in the next five-odd overs, out of which the Australian scored only five runs. Steyn came in to bowl the penultimate over with RCB needing 28. De Villiers picked 24 runs off the over which included three sixes and a four. +The most remarkable of his strokes came off the last ball as he scooped a full delivery over fine-leg for a six. This time, too, Steyn had no option but to appreciate. At the end of the game, he embraced de Villiers in appreciation.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45. The above article was first published in CricketCountry)

10 epic batting performances in IPL history

Undeterred by injuries, Varun Aaron keeps faith in bowling quick

The seven season-ending Purple Cap winners so far in IPL history