He may have retired from international cricket more than two years back. He also may not have played a lot of competitive cricket in the last few years. But there is no denying that South African great AB de Villiers is still one of the best batsmen in world cricket right now. AB had admitted in the initial games that he was nervous about finding form ahead of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 due to lack of match practice. But those fears were allayed in the very first game of the season.
And de Villiers has continued to pile on the runs for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) this season. Even on Saturday, de Villiers was ominous form as he smashed 55 runs off just 22 balls to help RCB register a seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals at Dubai International Stadium.
RCB Head coach Simon Katich on Saturday described de Villiers as a “freak” who single-handedly won Royal Challengers Bangalore the game against RR.
“He is a freak, isn’t he? That’s why he is the greatest of all time. What we saw was another masterclass, we have seen a number of them already in this tournament.”He had one here against Mumbai, and obviously the other day he got 73 off 33,” Katich said during the press conference.
The coach also said that they learned from their mistake in the last game and ensured that de Villiers batted at his usual number four spot. The South African star had come in at number six against KXIP on Thursday.
“We certainly made sure that he bats in his right position today. We certainly learnt from our mistake and he was wonderful.
“The reason we won was I think he was magnificent, Chris Morris was brilliant, (Yuzvendra Chahal) got us back in the game with his two wickets, we had a number of crucial performances but AB basically won us the game single-handedly.”Looked like Rajasthan deserved to win and we got out of jail really.”It was the 19th over when de Villiers exploded, smashing three successive sixes off Jaydev Unadkat, who ended up conceding 25 runs to change the complexion of the match.
Royals captain Steve Smith said it was just “serious batting” by de Villiers, who made the penultimate over look so “awful”.
“In hindsight and now in the result, yeah absolutely,” Smith said when asked if he should have bowled Jofra Archer in the 19th over.
“But look it is a tough one. I thought Jaydev bowls this cutters and stuff into the wicket and bowls really well normally to a long boundary at the leg side. It wasn’t an awful over, it was some pretty serious batting to be honest.”There are not too many guys who can hit the ball the way AB did, under pressure, to a big side and clear the fence very easily… But hindsights are a wonderful thing, isn’t it?The defeat was Royals’ sixth in nine games and Smith said it did hurt to lose from a winning position.
“In the last two games, we got ourselves to two positions to win the game but we were not able to do that, and that hurts. For us it is pretty clear cut now. We need to win our last five games to have a chance to make the play-offs,” he said.On a personal note, Smith was back among the runs, scoring a 36-ball 57.