AB de Villiers knows what he is doing, just leave it to him

If you are a person who believes in spirituality, surrender to De Villiers and just watch the magic that he creates with the willow.

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AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

AB de Villiers never gets tired of doing what he does. We never get tired of seeing De Villiers do what he does as well. On 9th April 2021, against the Mumbai Indians, the South African batting genius yet again produced another master class with the willow to allow his side to cross the finish line in the inaugural match of the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

De Villiers has played so many resplendent knocks in his IPL career, that the little gem that he conjured at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai might not immediately stand out if we just browse through the scorecard. Yes, he scored a 27-ball 48. Yes, he scored his runs at a strike rate of 177.78. But then, we must delve a little deep into the circumstances under which De Villiers conjured a gem of an innings against the most successful IPL franchise to understand the value of his knock.

AB de Villiers and his sorcery at Chennai

The pitch at the MA Chidambaram Stadium was not the easiest one to bat on. The boundaries were not small by any means. And, when De Villiers walked in, the RCB scorecard read 98/3 after 12.3 overs. The situation became worse soon after, as the Bangalore side slipped to 106/5 at the end of the 15th over. That meant that the Royal Challengers Bangalore side needed 54 runs off the last 30 deliveries.

Out of the 5 overs that were left, Jasprit Bumrah still had 2 overs up his sleeve. In his first 2 overs, the pacer had given away just 9 runs and had also scalped the big wicket of Virat Kohli. And, it was under these circumstances that De Villiers pulled off a classic that allowed the Bangalore side to start their 2021 IPL campaign on a winning note.

De Villiers’ first boundary in the match against Mumbai was a shot of Genius. Rahul Chahar bowled a delivery on the middle stump that turned slightly away and did not give the South African any room. But then, great players create opportunities when there are apparently none. De Villiers moved towards the leg side and nonchalantly pummeled Chahar over the cover fielder for a boundary.

And then, came the biggie. Chahar tossed the ball up to the batting icon, and De Villiers was as quick as lightning even at the age of 37. The RCB batting behemoth once again gave himself some room and smashed Chahar over Long Off for six. Off his first 7 balls, De Villiers had scored only 4 runs. Off his next 2 deliveries, he had scored 10. Was he teasing the opposition? Had he just given them a sniff by staying quiet for the first 7 deliveries, and then just exploded with the bat in hand just because he willed it that way?

The situation then boiled down to 34 runs needed off the last 3 overs. Off the 3 overs left, Bumrah and Trent Boult had one each. But then, does it even matter?

Off the first ball of the 18th over, De Villiers lofted Trent Boult over Long Off for six. Two balls later, Boult missed the yorker by an inch. And that was enough for De Villiers to capitalize on. The batting behemoth drove Boult straight down the ground and split the gap between Long On and Long Off with pinpoint accuracy.

And then, came Bumrah. 19 needed off the last 2 overs. Bumrah bowled a low full toss, and De Villiers just slapped the cherry over cover. The ball landed just inside the boundary. And then, off the 3rd ball of the 19th over, Bumrah went short in a bid to surprise De Villiers. But, the master batsman bent and just sliced the Mumbai Indians’ pacer over short third man for a boundary. Did you see shades of Sachin Tendulkar in that uppercut?

De Villiers had now turned the match overwhelmingly in favor of the Bangalore side. The equation boiled down to 3 runs off the final 3 deliveries. De Villiers played the ball towards the leg side and scampered for a couple. But then, Krunal Pandya sent in a bullet of a throw to catch De Villiers just inches short of his ground. And, when the batting legend walked back to the pavilion, RCB needed 2 runs off 2 balls. The Bangalore side romped home of the final delivery, and De Villiers had yet again played the role of a finisher to perfection.

AB de Villiers: A chaser par excellence

AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

Let us now dig into some numbers. In the table below, let us take a look at the Top 10 highest run-scorers in IPL history and their record in a run chase.

Player NameTotal RunsInnings in an IPL chaseRuns in an IPL chaseStrike Rate in a run chase50s100s50+ score in an IPL chaseInnings per 50+ score
Virat Kohli5911932753130.23161175.47
Suresh Raina5368862279138.54130136.62
David Warner5254692431143.25251262.65
Rohit Sharma5249892187122.59160165.56
Shikhar Dhawan5197732107126.17171184.05
AB de Villiers4897771943139.58150155.13
Chris Gayle4772642049143.79131144.57
MS Dhoni4632781945131.60100107.80
Robin Uthappa46071102724135.25140147.86
Gautam Gambhir4217892460120.12200204.45

From the above table, we can see that De Villiers has a better Innings per fifty-plus score than all-time greats such as Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni, and Robin Uthappa in an IPL run chase. In fact, only the likes of David Warner, Shikhar Dhawan, Chris Gayle, and Gautam Gambhir have a better Innings per fifty-plus score than De Villiers.

But even here, we need to delve a little deeper. De Villiers has a much better strike rate than the likes of Gambhir and Dhawan in a run chase. While Gayle beats De Villiers in terms of strike rate by a margin of just 4.21, Warner’s strike rate in an IPL run chase is only 3.67 higher than De Villiers. All the names in the above list are IPL icons, and for De Villiers to tower over many of them underlines the phenomenon that he is. In short, De Villiers is one of the greatest chasers in the history of IPL cricket.

AB de Villiers knows exactly what he is doing

AB de Villiers is a Genius, and there is no doubting that. And, the best thing to do with a Genius is to allow him to express himself fully. Let us leave De Villiers alone, for he knows exactly what he is doing. And finally, if you are a person who believes in spirituality, surrender to De Villiers and just watch the magic that he creates with the willow.

Note: All the stats have been taken from Cricmetric and iplt20.com and have been updated after the match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians on 9th April 2021

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