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AB de Villiers was a gem with the bat in white clothes. His retirement is a big loss for Test cricket….

On Thursday evening, the world cricket suffered a huge blow when AB de Villiers called it a day from all forms of international cricket. It was a huge loss for international cricket as De Villiers is unarguably the best batsman to have embraced the game of cricket (in the writer’s opinion). Cricket will not be the same without Mr.360.

De Villiers possesses some unique qualities with the bat, he is versatile and had almost everything in his batting syllabus. He can manufacture a shot, which is even impossible for a mere mortal to think of. A splendid combination of brute force and finesse, De Villiers is a force to be reckoned across formats.

De Villiers holds the record of scoring the fastest 50, 100 and 150 in ODI cricket at the same time, he has also batted for hours to save a Test for South Africa, such has been the legend of De Villiers. It is very difficult for anyone to expect a maverick batsman to hold his fort for that long, but that is how versatile and competent his brain his, no less than a supercomputer.

There are hardly any cricketers in world cricket, who could play an elegant straight drive without any flaw, while at the same time smash a yorker for a six over the fine leg with perfection. That’s De Villiers for you! Clean as a whistle, yet confusing as a puzzle. Since the Superman of world cricket has thrown his towel, let’s go back in time and take a look at his five incredible Test innings. Not to forget, he has many outstanding performances in his Test career that has spanned over 114 Tests, averaging 50.66 and it was very difficult to handpick just five. Let’s take a look:

33 vs Australia, Adelaide 2012

This classy exhibition of temperament and batsmanship by De Villiers is rated very highly by the pundits of cricket. Against one of the most intimidating bowling attacks in world cricket, in their own backyard, De Villiers stuck to his guns to snatch a draw from implausible jaws of defeat and save the day for South Africa.

AB de Villiers in action during his stubborn resistance against South Africa at Adelaide in 2012. Image Courtesy: ESPNcricinfo

Australia set a target of 430 in the fourth innings for South Africa to chase. De Villiers walked out to bat at four when South Africa were precariously placed at 36 for 2. He played out 220 deliveries for his 33 in order to drag the game as further as possible. Faf du Plessis starred with the bat, but was equally supported by De Villiers, who was dismissed in the second session of the final day. South Africa managed to save the game, which was engineered by Du Plessis, Kallis and De Villiers.

126* vs Australia, Port Elizabeth 2018

A century against the giants of the game is always special and De Villiers had a knack of scoring against the big guns. After a break from Test cricket, De Villiers showed why he was the best Test batsman on different surfaces against India. Then came the series against Australia, where he continued his good form and replicated his magical performance quite effectively.

[fve] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_29bxZFdSBk&t=258s [/fve]

In the second Test at Port Elizabeth, the onus of making a comeback was on South Africa after losing the series opener. De Villiers walked in to bat at 67 for 2 in the first innings in response to Australia’s 243. South Africa were reduced to 227 for 7 with a firing De Villiers at one end, but the lower-order did manage to stand up and help the superman achieve the 100-run milestone and post a massive total. De Villiers scored a scintillating 126 not out as South Africa posted a massive total of 382 on that wicket.

278* vs Pakistan, Abu Dhabi 2010

[fve] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbm4CYlqi1Y [/fve]

After opting to bat first on a surface that was conducive for batting, South Africa were in hot water at 33 for 3. They were in desperate need of a partnership when De Villiers stood up and along with Jacques Kallis rescued the South African innings. In the scorching heat of Abu Dhabi, De Villiers’ showed horse like stamina while batting for more than ten hours and smashed 23 boundaries and 6 sixes for his unbeaten 278 as South Africa posted 584. The match ended in a draw, but De Villiers recorded his highest Test score, which was also the then highest by a South African batsman.

106* vs Australia, Perth 2008

Batting in the fourth innings is never easy, which makes chasing difficult. After scoring a tenacious 63 in the first innings, De Villiers left the cricket fraternity bewildered with his astounding batting display. South Africa were chasing 414 in the fourth innings and had a good start in the run-chase. At 179 for 3 the target still looked a tad difficult to achieve.

[fve] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRog0eRKtDY [/fve]

De Villiers ensured South Africa scripted history with a magnificent century and carried the team over the line. He accounted for two match-winning partnerships, first with Kallis and then with JP Duminy to seal the game. Just four years old in the international arena, De Villiers was brimming with confidence and flair.

169 vs Australia, Perth 2012

South Africa gained had a healthy lead of 62 from the first innings and things were in the visitors favour in the second. South Africa were well placed at 287 for 3 when De Villiers walked out to bat. What makes this innings special was the fact that De Villiers didn’t waste any time in getting his eyes in and kept up the tempo by firing with all cylinders.

[fve] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exYN3qxJsus [/fve]

South Africa were scoring at a good strike-rate, De Villiers just added fuel to the fire. He played his strokes and scored in all parts of the ground as Australian bowlers quickly ran out of options. With the help of 21 boundaries and three sixes, De Villiers scored another ton and was eventually undone by Mitchell Starc on 169. South Africa posted 569 and won the game by 309 runs.

43 vs India, New Delhi 2015

Test cricket is not for the faint-hearted, it is not about only winning games and scoring runs, it will test a cricketer in many ways. On this occasion, the situation demanded a monk-like temperament and a marathon batting display. South Africa were chasing a mammoth target of 481 and by looking at the way things had fared in the series, there was no way they were going to get there.

The only way out for them was to save the Test and play it out until the final session. De Villiers gave an impression as if he was batting for his life. The ball was turning, but the stylish South African batsman blocked as many deliveries as possible to delay the result. At Tea, a draw for South Africa looked achievable, but De Villiers was undone by Ashwin in the final session and the pendulum once again swung in India’s favour as they went on to win the game. De Villiers confronted 297 deliveries for his 43 on a surface where spinners were wreaking havoc.

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