Dubai: Minutes after his superhuman effort in the match against Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday, AB de Villiers confided to the TV presenter that he was actually quite disturbed after having fallen for a duck in the previous game. A frank admission from the champion batsman - cricket’s quintessential ‘Mr 360’ - which reveals how much fire is still left in him.
The uncertainty over the Indian Premier League (IPL) earlier this year had cast serious questions about it scuppering AB’s plans to come back from retirement in international cricket - but the top brass of Cricket South Africa can now see what they had been missing. The next T20 World Cup in India is exactly a year away, but given the batsman’s level of energy and fitness, it should now be a no-brainer for them to keep him in the plans.
One has lost count of the number of times he has pulled off such a heist for the RCB, but the 73 off 33 balls on a sluggish wicket at Sharjah has to be kept at another level for a number of reasons. It was a wicket where a batsman of Virat Kohli’s calibre was failing to time his strokes and even by the Indian captain’s admission, they were looking at a target between 160-165 till the South African took on Pat Cummins - one of the finest fast bowlers in the world - to hit him for two sixes down the ground in the 17th over.
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It’s not everyday that one sees Kohli playing second fiddle to any batsman and their unbroken 100-run partnership showed a telepathic understanding between two of the modern greats. Cummins, who had given away 19 runs in his first three overs, finished with figures of 4-0-38-0 as one was left wondering if the South African had rolled out a different strip for himself in the final overs.
While his efforts left the TV pundits awestruck, rival captain Dinesh Karthik also made a valid observation that AB made the job look easier that it actually was - thanks to his lightning quick reflexes which helped him get into right positions for those mighty blows.
It was a clinical performance from RCB, and more importantly, they seemed to be getting close to what would be a right combination for them. The availability of allrounder Chris Morris lends a huge balance to their attack as well as the lower middle order in batting, while other overseas player who has made a big difference to their pace attack had been the low profile Isuru Udana. The pair can be the remedy to the franchise’s woes of leaking runs over the years - while Washington Sundar will only get more effective as the wickets get slower in all three venues.
And yes, what more can one say about Yuzvendra Chahal? Figures of 4-0-12-1 in Sharjah looks like a dream - but then contests in this historic venue may also more intriguing in the coming days.