5 knocks that defined the legacy of AB de Villiers
The most feared batsman by the bowlers and one of the most admired cricketer by fans worldwide, Abraham Benjamin de Villiers is an enigma with the willow in his hand. There possibly doesn't exist a spot in a cricket ground where the ball hasn't been smashed by him.
He's hailed as 'Mr.360', 'Superman', 'and by several other sobriquets for his almost super-human batting traits.
With over 20,000 international runs and numerous accolades to his name, he's one of the greatest players to have graced the sport. While he isn't currently active on the international cricket scene, let us look back at his illustrious international career for South Africa and come up with 5 special knocks across formats that made De Villiers a true legend of the game.
# 5: 106*(186 balls) vs Australia, Perth 2008
Chasing a mammoth fourth-innings target of 414 runs against an in-form Australian side in Perth, the going couldn't have got any tougher for the Proteas but as they say when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
Graeme Smith, the then captain of South Africa, initiated the onerous task for his team before de Villiers applied the finishing touches. Courtesy an unbeaten knock of 106 containing 9 boundaries, de Villiers exhibited remarkable restraint and showcased unbelievable grit and determination.
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Ably supported by his other teammates, South Africa completed a fine six-wicket win for the second-highest successful chase in the history of test cricket.
# 4: 278* (418 balls) vs Pakistan, Abu Dhabi 2010
A double hundred is a special feat for any cricketer but its even more so when scored in foreign conditions in the scorching heat of Abu Dhabi against a quality Pakistan bowling attack.
De Villiers played this knock during the first innings of the second test of a 2-match test series in 2010.
Coming out to bat in the 12th over with the Proteas struggling at 33/3, the right-hander looked positive right from the outset as he built a solid 179-run partnership with Jacques Kallis for the fourth wicket.
Following Kallis' dismissal, AB continued to bat positively, notching up a fine double hundred and remaining unbeaten on 278 courtesy 23 fours and 6 sixes before South Africa declared at 584/9.
# 3: 162* (66 balls) vs West Indies, Sydney 2015
This is the match in which De Villiers broke the record for the fastest 150 in ODI cricket, reaching the landmark off a meagre 64 balls.
Coming out to bat at 146/3 during the 30th over in an ODI against the West Indies in the 2015 World Cup in Sydney, De Villiers arrived at the crease with an attacking mindset as he notched up his fifty off 30 balls. Shifting through the gears with consummate ease, the right-hander reached his century off another 22 balls. Taking only 12 more balls for his third fifty, De Villiers remained unconquered on 162 off just 66 balls as South Africa piled up a mammoth 408-5.
The Windies line-up was packed out for a paltry 151 as the Proteas won the match by a huge margin of 257 runs. For his breathtaking batting performance, De Villiers was adjudged the man-of-the-match award.
# 2: 33* (220) vs Australia, Adelaide 2010
While every other knock in the list is in triple figures, a score of meagre 33* might surprise many.
The 33 off 220 balls AB de Villiers made against Australia in Adelaide is undeniably one of his best performances where the right-hander batted remarkably within himself to salvage his team from the jaws of a certain defeat.
Set an improbable fourth-innings of target of 430 runs by Australia, the Proteas started the final day at 77/4 and batted through the entire day to reach 248/8 by the close of play as the match ended in an exciting draw. Putting all his natural instincts to rest, De Villiers blocked his way to an unbeaten sedate knock of 33 and spent more than four hours at the crease as South Africa walked away with a creditable draw.
Faf du Plessis also batted exquisitely to score a 110 and was the hero for South Africa, but if it wasn't for De Villiers’s gritty and un-natural 33, a loss seemed all but inevitable for the tourists.
In a stand of 89 runs with Du Plessis, the duo batted out 67 overs which was eventually instrumental in South Africa avoiding a defeat and staying alive in the three-test series.
# 1: 149 (44 balls) vs West Indies, Johannesburg 2015
Batting first, the South African openers had put on a show as the score was 247 for one in the 39th over when De Villiers trooped out to bat. A century when the number of overs remaining is less than 11 is quite unthinkable for any batsman in the world unless his name is AB de Villiers.
From the word go, de Villiers smashed everything thrown at him. Getting down on one knee and hoicking, scooping and lofting in his trademark fashion, de Villiers did it all.
He broke the record of Corey Anderson on his way to the fastest-ever ODI hundred off 31-balls as the cricketing world stood up and applauded the maestro for his surreal performance. Courtesy De Villiers' pyrotechnics, South Africa notched up 439-2 which was then the second-highest score in ODI history.
The Proteas won by 148 runs as De Villiers earned the man-of-the-match award for a display of scintillating power hitting.
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