Star newsmaker AB de Villiers has made no sense for most of his 33 years‚ and he delivered more magical mystery mayhem in Indore on Monday.
Through a combination of injury and choice, De Villiers missed the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s first two matches of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) and South Africa’s last 11 internationals. The last time he picked up a bat in anger‚ in a One-Day Cup outing for the Titans against the Cobras on March 23‚ he was out for a duck on his second ball.
So, De Villiers might have felt underdone as he walked to the crease six balls into the match against the Kings XI Punjab on Monday. If he did‚ it did not show. De Villiers hit the first ball backward of point for four and hammered the fifth flat and furious over extra cover for six.
He drilled an unbeaten 89 off 46 balls‚ hitting three sixes and nine fours – infuriating coaches who put great store in telling their pupils to practise‚ practise‚ practise.
If that is what not playing can do for your game, perhaps cricketers should step onto the pitch as rarely as possible.
But‚ of course‚ not all cricket players are De Villiers.
Not even Hashim Amla‚ whose 58 not out off 38 balls – with four fours and three sixes – was also scored in Monday’s match and he guided the Kings XI to victory by eight wickets with 33 balls remaining.
That did not stop De Villiers from grabbing every headline‚ and from easily topping the list of achievements by South Africa’s players after the tournament’s first eight games.
The only other South African batting highlight in an event that – going into yesterday’s tussle between the Rising Pune Supergiant and the Delhi Daredevils‚ had delivered 16 half-centuries – was David Miller’s 30 not out that helped the Kings XI beat Pune by six wickets on Saturday.
Pune’s Imran Tahir has been South Africa’s most successful bowler so far – and is the joint leading wicket-taker with five scalps in two matches.
He took 3/28 against the Mumbai Indians on Thursday – removing the top order of Parthiv Patel‚ Jos Buttler and Rohit Sharma – and followed that by claiming 2/29 against the Kings XI on Saturday.
South Africa’s Titans bowler Chris Morris shared the new ball with Zaheer Khan for Delhi against the RCB on Saturday‚ and took 3/21.
The pick of Morris’s bunch was Chris Gayle‚ who was caught off a 145km/h full toss.
It was the third time in their six IPL matches against each other that Morris has dismissed the juggernaut Jamaican master.
Morris and Tahir were out for another crack again yesterday in a clash between Delhi and Pune.
Across the dressingroom divide, South African star batsman Faf du Plessis was playing his first game of this year’s IPL showcase for Pune yesterday.
But Du Plessis was not expected to make an impact like De Villiers.
That is the stuff of genius‚ and they will know it.