"I play to my strengths," says AB de Villiers after record-breaking 162* against Windies
If ever there is a man who never fails to make us go gaga over each and every knock of his, then his name is ‘AB de Villiers’. The man with the fastest ODI 50 and fastest ODI 100 went one step further to also pocket the fastest ODI 150 in the World Cup fixture – off just 64 balls – against West Indies today at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
He’s currently the world’s number one ODI batsman. With the way he’s playing these days, the number one status seems to be set in stone. After his 162* off just 66 balls at a strike-rate of 245.45, he proved the world that he’s the most destructive player ever to grace the game. Like adding a cherry on top, his team thrashed the Windies by a 257-run margin: the joint-highest for the biggest victory in terms of runs in the history of World Cup.
‘The stage was well set’
During the post-match presentation ceremony, the jubilant De Villiers, while speaking about his knock, said, “There are quite a few things that played a role in me performing like that today. I think the credit has to go to the guys up front, they set the base for us. I think Rilee (Rossouw) inspired me a bit with the way he played today. I came in, and he had a lot of intensity going and a lot of energy about him. That sort of affected the way I played as well.”
He added: “I straightaway wanted to get that kind of energy going and after timing a few balls, got a bit of momentum behind me and the rest was history. Watching the ball is a very, very important thing to do.”
‘Playing to your strengths’
Anybody who watched his game closely today would agree that he has all kinds of shots in his kitty. There were those conventional ones like the straight overhead drive for six and also few textbook defying ones like the scoop over fine-leg standing a foot away from his off-stump.
Responding to a question on how he carried his game, he explained: “I guess the main thing is to know your own game as quickly as possible. Know your weaknesses and strengths and play within that and wait for the opportunity to really hone in on your strengths. I understand when I have got a bit of momentum behind me and then I sort of earn the right to sort of have a go at the bowlers a little bit.”
When asked about the risk factor involved while playing in such an attacking fashion, he smiled and gave a terse answer, “I don't see them as risks. I just enjoy myself out there; I see it more as getting a bit of momentum and try to read the game. I like reading the situations out there, try and get behind what the bowlers are trying to do”.
He confessed that he was unaware of breaking the record for the fastest to reach 150 runs and said: “I didn't know that. I should have got it at the Wanderers, not too long ago, but I am very, very happy to have that now. It's just one of those games, it was our day today.”
Crediting his team for a comeback
After suffering a forgettable loss against India at the MCG five days back, De Villiers was a relieved man post his team’s performance today. He said, “It's a very enjoyable day. It was a really good performance after a disappointing one at the MCG. Very happy with the way the boys rocked up today. They are really motivated to do well and getting the result.”
He backed his top order batsmen, who failed to deliver against Zimbabwe and India but came back with meaningful contributions today, by saying, “I think our top three (de Kock, Amla and du Plessis) are natural ball players, they assess situations and conditions really well. The way they did it today once again. It was perfectly done.“
“Rilee came in and a bit of injection of momentum and I just followed. I think we paced the innings really well, it's all about reading the flow of the game and understanding that we are not going to have the momentum for 100 overs of ODI cricket. So, you sort of have to play the patience game sometimes and we did it really well today.”
Acknowledging individual performance
He also made it a point to congratulate the 31-year-old Farhaan Behardien. “I was very happy with Farhaan (Behardien) the way he came in there. He asked me if he should be getting the ones to get me on strike, I said, no, you just play your game and he just hit a six the ball after and he showed what he's capable of, very happy with him at 7.”
Imran Tahir, South Africa’s only frontline spinner, returned a fantastic five-for today. The skipper said, “Well, he (Imran Tahir) is just an incredible bowler. He's showed against all kinds of oppositions that he can he stand on his own and just amazing variation and control once again tonight, so very chuffed with him.”
South Africa now have two wins out of the three matches they’ve played. They were initially touted as favourites to lift the coveted trophy; however, their earlier performances, particularly the one against India, didn’t do justice to this. Winning over West Indies by such a huge margin will give a boost not only to their net run-rate but also to their morale.
Their next match is against Ireland on March 3.