“For AB de Villiers, he continues to be a force to be reckoned and has made a memorable comeback in whites. India had an outside chance in both the games, which was taken away by De Villiers, he continues to be the painful thorn in India’s flesh. With a match to go, expect the batting wizard to weave magic in Johannesburg”.
Who is AB de Villiers? Is he an extraordinary cricketer? A super-human? A magician? Or, an alien? Well, for many he may be one the above-mentioned things, but he is just another mortal, just another insanely talented cricketer, who is making the most of his gift.
AB is a genius, he is the master of all trades. With a brain that works like a supercomputer, his brilliance cannot be measured or expressed in words. He has an uncanny knack of snatching improbable victories from imminent jaws of defeats. When the going gets tough, AB get’s going. He likes to thrive under the pump, that’s what makes him a class apart.
After marking his Test comeback with an emphatic knock at Cape Town, AB played another match-turning innings in Centurion. In the series opener, Bhuvneshwar Kumar wreaked havoc and made the South African top-order look like sitting ducks with his pace and swing. He made the ball talk and threatened to take the game away from India at the outset.
In came AB de Villiers and things changed for South Africa….
He counterattacked, he took on the pumped-up Indian attack with unmatched confidence and didn’t look even a bit rusty, which was commendable for a batsman who was making a comeback. Not to forget, the pitch had anything and everything for the bowlers. De Villiers broke the shackles with some belligerence and charisma of his own. His knock of 65 weathered the early storm and sailed the South African ship to calm waters. His stand with Faf du Plessis provided South Africa with the platform to post a competitive total.
Coming to Centurion, the onus of making a comeback was on India, and the visiting side ensured they came out hard. AB failed to fire in the first innings, but South Africa still managed to get a healthy 280 run lead. The match was evenly poised between both the sides and things could have gone either way.
In the second innings, Jasprit Bumrah delivered a gem of a spell with the new ball, picking the key wickets of Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla. Ravichandran Ashwin was tightening the noose around South African batsmen and things went out of South Africa’s control at 3 for 2. They needed a partnership to steady the ship. Indian bowlers were ruthless when it came to consistency and Dean Elgar’s struggle was a testament to it.
AB had to click and he clicked
If South Africa had any chance whatsoever, this partnership had to click, more importantly, AB de Villiers had to click. He commenced his innings with a boundary through fine leg, which was also very close from being another wicket. But De Villiers looked in complete control since then. Batting was difficult, but he smartly played out the new ball. He needed to bid his time at the crease and eventually reaped fruitful results for it.
The uncharacteristic nature of the Centurion was playing on batsman’s mind and Indian bowlers backed it up with some disciplined bowling. The ball was reversing, while Ravichandran Ashwin got some turn and bounce from ball 1. There was pressure, but AB soaked in and delivered a gem of an innings.
AB and Elgar ensured South Africa didn’t lose another wicket until the end of the day. On Day 4, AB continued his assault and laid the platform for a formidable fourth innings total. He was astute and placed his innings sensibly, he knew the deliveries to go after and pounced on the loose ones. With AB the margin for error was minimal. He likes to counter-attack when the opposition is just tightening the noose.
AB looked good for a ton and rightly deserved one, but Mohammed Shami produced a peach of a delivery to get rid of the genius on 80. Chasing anything above 200 was always going to be a challenge in the fourth innings and the duo ensured South Africa had their bases covered. Nothing could interrupt De Villiers’ determination and focus, not even the rains. He looked right on the money whenever he took guard.
The momentum of the game swung like the pendulum of a clock and De Villiers had a huge role to play in the second innings. South Africa needed him to deliver on a couple of occasions, and he rightly did, such is the class of De Villiers. He didn’t let his team down and proved why a player like him is weighed in gold.
At stumps on Day 4, India were in all sorts of trouble after losing three big wickets for just 35. The target is still miles away and Day 5 will certainly pose a challenge of a different kind. For AB de Villiers, he continues to be a force to be reckoned and has made a memorable comeback in whites. India had an outside chance in both the games, which was taken away by De Villiers, he continues to be the painful thorn in India’s flesh. With a match to go, expect the batting wizard to weave magic in Johannesburg.