AB de Villiers celebrates Test comeback by going past 10,000 first-class runs
What's the story?
Playing his first Test match since January 2016, South African batsman AB de Villiers has celebrated his much awaited comeback by going past 10,000 first-class runs during the four-day fixture against Zimbabwe at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth.
During the opening day of the inaugural floodlit Test in the Rainbow Nation, de Villiers breached the prestigious 10,000-run landmark encompassing red-ball matches at both first-class and international level. Needing just two runs to achieve the milestone, he got there in the 25th over of the innings bowled by Zimbabwean pacer Chris Mpofu.
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Ahead of the match, regular skipper Faf du Plessis was ruled out due to a respiratory tract infection. As a consequence, AB de Villiers found himself leading the Proteas in his comeback Test.
The heart of the matter
Prior to the four-day Test against Zimbabwe, de Villiers had been stranded for a long time on 9998 runs from 133 first-class matches due to a back injury as well as a self-imposed hiatus from the format. When Hashim Amla spooned a simple catch to the cover fielder, the stand-in captain walked into the arena amidst palpable fervour.
After a couple of tentative prods, de Villiers obtained three runs in the third delivery that he faced in the innings. Ironically, it was an outside-edge which helped him go past 10,000 first-class runs. In doing so, the 33-year old joined an elite list of South African batting icons.
Some of the other legendary names in the distinguished club are Herbie Taylor, Jackie McGlew, Dave Nourse, Dudley Nourse, Trevor Goddard, Eddie Barlow, Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards, Mike Proctor, Clive Rice, Peter Kirsten, Kepler Wessels, Hansie Cronje, Daryll Cullinan, Gary Kirsten, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla.
When his check-drive was turned into a caught and bowled by Mpofu, de Villiers was dismissed for a breezy 65-ball 53. Eventually, he declared the innings with the team total reading 309/9.
Considering the absence of the vital fifth day, it will be interesting to see how he masterminds South Africa's push for victory against an underwhelming Zimbabwean outfit. Following the match, he is likely to hand the captaincy mantle to du Plessis who is expected to return to action for the first Test against India at Cape Town on January 5.
A cursory glance at the names in South Africa's 10,000 first-class runs club should reveal the magnitude of de Villiers' achievement. It is pertinent to note that the dynamic right-hander needs 1873 more runs to breach the 10,000-run mark in Tests only.
Even though the man himself insists that he does not 'care about' getting to the landmark, his next red-ball milestone could seal his legacy in the premier format.