Despite a second run which brought his innings to an end, the Protean superman did enough for Harshal Patel to aptly finish off the game.
The opening match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 saw the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) edge past defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI). In what was a thrilling run chase, RCB skipper Virat Kohli sent South African batsman AB de Villiers to the crease at number five. The decision came as a shock to many at the time, but it turned out to be a masterstroke as Mr. 360’s quickfire 48 off just 27 deliveries proved to be match-winning for the red and gold.
Kohli explained that AB’s batting position was more of a psychological move than tactical. He explained that since opponents are usually wary of the South African, sending him as a middle-order batsman in a neck-and-neck run chase might keep them on edge throughout the game. The move could not have worked out better as De Villiers did exactly what was expected of him, utter destruction.
“The opposition gets nervous about AB,” Kohli said. “AB is probably the only player who’s so versatile and can do what he did on slow pitches today, so we have to understand. If there’s a partnership on, you might see a totally different order. But in a tricky chase, you want some options in the back end, where the opposition thinks it’s not over until he gets out.”
Several fans and former cricketers were sceptical of Virat’s decision, including former Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh who tweeted, “your best batsmen after opening have to come at no 3 or no 4 in t20.”
The South African missed out on what would have been a marvellous half-century thanks to an unfortunate run out. He headed back to the pavilion after lifting his side to a comfortable situation where they needed only two runs off as many deliveries. His innings comprised four fours and two maximums, with a strike rate of about 178.