South African champion smashed a 39-ball 90* to lead Royal Challengers Bangalore to victory over Delhi Daredevils.
AB de Villiers had been in good touch going into the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League, having scored a century and four half-centuries during South Africa’s 3-1 Test series victory over Australia last month.
De Villiers started the IPL well but then had two bad outings before hitting the ball as well as he ever has in scoring an unbeaten 90 off just 39 balls for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Delhi Daredevils on Saturday, 21 April. Chasing 175 for a win, Bangalore romped to a six-wicket win with two overs to spare on the back of de Villiers’ heroics.
Coming into bat at a tricky 29/2 after 4.3 overs, the South African hit his straps straightaway and hit 10 fours and five sixes against an attack that had Trent Boult and Chris Morris.
Awarded Player of the Match, de Villiers admitted being “in the zone” and spotting the ball nice and early.
“It’s just some of the nights you see the ball well,” he said. “The last few nights I wasn’t seeing the ball well, but tonight right from the word go I saw the ball coming out of the bowler’s hand nice and clear which brought myself that half a second to make the decisions.
“You don’t always get that so you have to cash in when that happens.”
De Villiers looked like he meant business the moment he walked out. He was ruthless against pace and spin alike as he treated the jam-packed stadium with his full repertoire of shots.
“When I do start doing well, I try and go after the bowler and try and put him under a lot of pressure,” said de Villiers. “When you do get on top of the bowler you have to put him down. I kept feeling good at the wicket, kept seeing the ball well kept hitting it well. I never decided to be aggressive, just the little moments in the game I felt I needed to capitalise on.”
De Villiers stitched a crucial 63-run partnership for the third wicket with Virat Kohli in a shade over 6.3 overs, which took the game away from the opposition completely. With Bangalore having won just one out of their previous four games, the win might just change the fortunes of the side.
“When you have brilliance like that in the team, he makes you smile and give you plenty of memories and tonight was one as well,” said an elated Kohli of de Villiers. “He just keeps taking the game away and that’s why there’s no doubt why he’s the best player in the world.”
De Villiers’ knock just not just drew praise from his teammates but from rivals as well.
“AB took the game away from us, the way he batted,” said Gautam Gambhir, the Delhi captain. “We were very much in the game after scoring 175, which was a great effort from the batters, but AB took his chances and dominated from the get go.”