An on song AB de Villiers is a sight to behold. A player who can single-handedly change the course of the match within a few deliveries, Royal challengers Bangalore’s decision to send him at No 6 against Kings XI Punjab on Thursday defied logic.
Even though it was done to nullify the threat of leg-spinners, their best batsman getting very few deliveries to face made little sense.
On Saturday against Rajasthan Royals, De Villiers showed what he can offer in at No 4. As he took guard in the 14th over, Bangalore were under a spot of bother, having lost Virat Kohli in their chase of 178.
Three quiet overs came and went as the asking rate increased to 17.5 by the time Jaydev Unadkat was chosen to bowl the crucial 19th over ahead of Jofra Archer.
As Unadkat ran in, De Villiers was on 28 off 16 deliveries, having already hit Archer and Unadkat for couple of sixes. But Rajasthan believed they still had match under their control. Enter vintage De Villiers.
On days like this, when he had enough time in the world to pick the spot and send the ball soaring over the boundary line, he can leave you wondering why he had hurriedly called time on his international career.
Unadkat, who was easily India’s best domestic bowler in 2019-20 season, learned some harsh lessons as he went for 25 runs to completely change the momentum of the match.
The first ball of the 19th was a 94-metre hit over mid-wicket. The next sailed over long on. Length balls are a crime at the death and against De Villiers it stands no chance irrespective of boundary size.
Steve Smith rued the decision to keep Archer for the final over as De Villiers completed the formalities with two balls to spare as Bangalore moved up to third spot, opening a four-point lead over the fourth placed Kolkata Knight Riders.
“He is a freak. Isn’t he? That is why he is the greatest of all time. I think what we saw today was another master class. We have seen a number of them (such innings) in that tournament already,” said Simon Katich in the post-match conference.
“We made sure that he batted in his right position today. We have learned from that mistake. He was wonderful and the main reason why we won the game today.
”Chris Morris, with his four wicket haul in the first innings also played a role in Bangalore securing their sixth win.Brief scores: RR 177/6 in 20 ovs ( (Smith 57, Uthappa 41; Morris 4/26) lost to RCB 179/3 in 19.4 ovs (De Villiers 55 n.o, Kohli 43).
SRH vs KKR
There is so much in common between these two teams. Both find themselves amongst a crowd that is fighting for a Play-offs berth.
Apart from lacking consistency, both teams have issues with their middle-order which is yet to click. While Hyderabad have a good bowling unit, Kolkata have struggled with the ball as well. SRH start favourites.
564 Number of runs hit by SRH’s Jonny Bairstow & David Warner together this season.
7.62 Offie Varun Chakravarthy has the best economy rate among KKR bowlers.
MI vs KXIP
Battle of top versus bottom
To say Mumbai are high-flying would be an understatement. They are easily the team in form as what ever they have touched as turned into gold. In a tournament where spinners were expeted to call the shots, it is their pacers who have done the job.
The same cannot be said about Punjab, who are lanquishing at the bottom of the table thanks to some ordinary performances. Despite having in-form opening combination, their middle-order is yet to make substantial contribution.