AB de Villiers scored only 100 runs in six IPL innings in 2008. In one whirlwind, 54-ball knock last week in Durban, the Delhi Daredevils star more than doubled his overall tally with a breathtaking 105 not out.
In the process De Villiers became the first South African to score a century in the IPL, the first to score a century in the IPL’s second season and only the seventh batsman in IPL history to reach the three-figure mark.
With the IPL attracting billions of television viewers worldwide De Villiers put down another marker in his bid to convince the world he is well on his way to becoming the “best batsmen in the world”.
To those who have watched the 24-year-old perform for South Africa over the last 12 months – he averaged close to 90 during the Australian ODI home series – the innings at Kingsmead was confirmation that he is on track.
“I had a bad IPL in 2008. I didn’t play in all the games, was unlucky to be run out in one and didn’t really get going,” De Villiers said yesterday. “So I set myself a goal before this tournament to repay my franchise.
“I’ve been in good form with the Proteas, so I wanted to carry that through to the IPL to improve my overall T20 record. Also, there’s a World Cup around the corner so I want to be in good form when that comes around.”
It seems that De Villiers has the Midas touch at the moment as his brilliant run-out in the Daredevils’ last game against the Royal Challengers proved once again that he is arguably the best fielder in the world.
Actually, there is nothing to be argued – De Villiers is the best fielder in the world!
His direct throw from mid-off to run out R Vinay Kumar had commentators searching for adjectives but, in fact, it was nothing in comparison to the run-out he completed in the final ODI against the Aussies at The Wanderers when he knocked down the stumps with both feet off the ground.
“I’m working extremely hard at my game, both batting and fielding. No run has just fallen in my lap. And I’ve always placed a high priority on working on my fielding. Ever since I was eight years old, I watched Jonty Rhodes and wanted to emulate him. It’s great to do something special in the field which alters the game. I’m always looking for that.”
Along with the Deccan Chargers, De Villiers’ Daredevils have been the form team of the IPL in the opening stages. The Delhi outfit’s success has been based on an explosive top order, with Virender Sehwag, Guatam Gambhir and underrated Sri Lankan Tillekeratne Dilshan joining De Villiers at the top of the order.
“Our batting is strong but it’s also because a lot of planning has gone into ensuring role definition for each batsman,” De Villiers said. “Sehwag and Dilshan are aggressive so they play their shots and try to build momentum up front. Gambhir and I have taken on a different role, playing ourselves in before expressing ourselves. None of us tries to bat through the innings.”
De Villiers is wary of looking ahead to the semifinals though, especially as there are still 11 round-robin matches left before the playoffs. But he’s excited about the tournament moving to the Highveld, a region he is well accustomed to.
“I obviously know the grounds pretty well up here, and I’ll help the boys where I can. I love playing at SuperSport Park. It’s my home ground and I hope the fans will come out and cheer for the boys in red, the same way Herschelle Gibbs and the Chargers were cheered in Cape Town.”
The born-and-bred Pretoria star is also keen to show some of his Delhi team mates a bit more than just SuperSport Park.
“We didn’t do much off the field in Durban so now that we’re in my home town on Saturday, I’m taking them to the big one, Loftus Versveld, for the Bulls’ Super 14 match against the Western Force. We’ll see how that goes!”
Source: IOL.co.za – April 28, 2009 / ZAAHIER ADAMS