Such has been the quality in AB de Villiers’s batting that even the bowlers stand and applaud his strokes © PTI
AB de Villiers’s sensational unbeaten 89 from 41 balls took Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to their much needed victory. R Vishal looks at the significance of the knock and what it bodes for RCB.
With Sachin Tendulkar walking away into the sunset in November 2013, the battle for next No 1 batsmen in the world has reached fever pitch. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers have been in the fray for their spell-binding performances in recent times and Kohli put an end to the debate by hailing de Villiers as the best for extraordinary 89 off 41 balls for Royal Challengers Bangalore for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014.
De Villiers had a rather quiet IPL so far — a labored 45 out of 48 balls against lowly Mumbai Indians followed by a string of low scores. In Bangalore’s third match, against Kolkata, de Villiers was at the crease in the penultimate over of their run-chase with touching distance of a victory. Chris Lynn’s jaw-dropping catch at deep mid-wicket ended de Villiers’s innings and Bangalore surrendered a sure-shot victory. Lynn’s catch and the loss looked like it deeply affected the team, which saw them slump to two more losses in the UAE.
While chasing a modest total of 156 under friendly batting conditions at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium and a partisan crowd, wickets were tumbling at regular intervals and another loss looked on the cards. Badly needing a big score, de Villiers then began his magnificent onslaught, slowly settling in and waiting for his moment to pounce. The moment arrived with Darren Sammy’s non threatening medium pacers and de Villiers unleashed his classic lob over extra cover and followed it up by a massive hit over the bowlers’ head. The one that will go into IPL and T20 folklore is the assault on Steyn. The improvisation and the immaculate way in which de Villiers picked up his compatriot’s lengths were out of this world and three sixes of the over sealed the tie.
An aghast and flummoxed Steyn looked up to the sky and yelled “different class” and clapped vociferously after being on the receiving end of a brutal attack. This magical knock was a culmination of many factors that can now provide the much needed fillip for his team that had their mojo sucked out in the aftermath of the Kolkata loss. After failing to take his team across the finish line, de Villiers did it in some style in Bangalore in the chase against Hyderabad and it underlined his ability to single-handedly take his team to victory.
The South African hardly received any support from his partners and in many ways it was de Villiers’s way righting the wrong and roaring back into form. It also firmly put to bed the fact that de Villiers is peerless in the shorter formats of the game. Meanwhile, Bangalore are back in the IPL with an AB bang. In the T20 format, sometimes all it takes is one brilliant catch which lifts the morale. RCB will hope this is the moment to reload this season.
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(R Vishal is a journalist and alumni of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)