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De Villiers sets the record straight against left-arm spin

AB de Villiers lofts one over backward square leg BCCI

Star turn

AB de Villiers had a bit of a problem against left-arm spin before this match began, but his numbers against Shahbaz Nadeem - only 22 runs off 23 balls, with one boundary - suggested it could be something of a weakness.

On Saturday night, he went about firmly overturning that record. After walking in with the team two-down thanks to an ordinary sequence of running, de Villiers faced his first seven balls from Nadeem. Not only did he take him for five boundaries in that period, he had Nadeem bowling it exactly where he wanted it with smart use of the sweep shot to unsettle the spinner. De Villiers didn't look like a batsman who had a weakness - or any problem at all - when he swept Nadeem from outside off or launched him over extra cover from leg stump, and certainly not when he hit the shot of the evening - a back foot punch to bisect long-on and deep midwicket against a good length ball.

So it was all business as usual. De Villiers made sure the middle order didn't have much to do after Kohli got out. It's the role he has been given, even if his coming in at No. 4 means the less experienced players either do not get to bat or are stuck at the crease when the pressure is too much for them. In any case, on Saturday night, de Villiers adjusted to the loss of early wickets, compensated for a shaky Kohli at the other end and didn't once look like he was playing with anything on his mind other than the ball - not the situation and certainly not the equation. That much was evident when Royal Challengers had two overs left when the win was completed.

Wow moment

Every time a wicket fell, it seemed de Villiers was allergic to the idea that the opposition had some kind of an advantage. Harshal had got Kohli at the end of the 11th over, and he returned to be carted for 18 runs in the 13th. The over began with a six over long-on, and then came a moment of genius to reach fifty.

De Villiers had squatted into position, well outside off stump, for a ramp over short fine leg. He was sure of the line and length coming. But Harshal dared to dream - he threw up a variation, a slower ball floating away from the wide markers. De Villiers was halfway in position for a swat - in front of square now - when he quickly rewound his premeditated plans got a straighter bat under the ball and lifted it over extra cover.

The numbers

  • His 360-degree tag wasn't earned easily: AB de Villiers made 50 percent of his runs through midwicket, the highest for any of his 50-plus scores in the IPL

  • De Villiers' 24-ball fifty was this third-fastest in the IPL, behind his 23-ball and 21-balls efforts previously

  • De Villiers' 69-run stand with Virat Kohli took the pair to 2361 runs together in the IPL; they're now behind only the Gayle-Kohli pair (2787 runs)

Quotes

"Some of those nights when I see the ball well, last two innings, I didn't. But tonight it was nice and clear. It buys my time an extra split second to make a decision. When I do get going, I cash in on the momentum. I spoke about being a black mamba earlier. And today I wanted to be that."
AB de Villiers at the presentation ceremony