This ultimately turned out to be a contest between ABD and JD (Jaydev Unadkat). If the former is known for doing the unthinkable in the death overs, the latter is notorious for being profligate in such situations.
Perhaps it’s high time to treat the word AB de Villiers not as a noun but as an adjective. If anyone wants to describe an insane, freakish, superhuman effort in the Indian Premier League (IPL), they can simply use the adjective ABD in short.
More than Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) versus Rajasthan Royals (RR), this ultimately turned out to be a contest between ABD and JD (Jaydev Unadkat). If the former is known for doing the unthinkable in the death overs, the latter is notorious for being profligate in such situations. Just one more chapter was added in the respective players’ journey in the IPL.
If there can be a most absurd match-ups in T20, it has to be this pair and it was baffling to see that Steve Smith chose Unadkat over Jofra Archer for the most important 19th over duty. 35 runs were needed in last 12 balls and De Villiers went for kill when he saw the ball in Unadkat’s hand. 6, 6, and 6 off the first three balls of his over indicated that it was once again going to be the ABD show.
"It’s a cat and mouse game. A game of chess, whatever you want to call it. I always respect the bowlers. If they bowl well to me, they’ll have the upper hand. I’m going to do everything I can in my ability to turn the tide. And luckily for me that worked today," said the South African after winning the man of the match award. RCB’s target of 178 was achieved by a superlative performance from ABD and the seven-wicket win which now has taken them to 12 points.
One and only ABD show
However, it was a formidable task for RCB to win from the situation when a player like Virat Kohli did not look completely convincing even if he hit two sixes in his 32-ball 43. ABD was left with an equation of 76 runs required from 41 balls when Kohli departed.
Only one player (David Warner) in the IPL had hit a dozen 50s of 25 or fewer balls, and the South African chose the right day to join the Australian with an unbeaten mind-boggling 55 off 22.
"I try to hide it. I get very stressed. I’m proud of my performances. Want to perform for my team (and) have an impact and that’s winning games. Want to show owners I’m here for a good reason," said De Villiers, who hit one more six than the Royals managed in their entire innings (5), after the match.
Of course, Dubai is no Sharjah, where six-hitting ability has a far more influential role in winning the game, but for a player like ABD, no ground can be big enough to stop him when he is on song.
"You saw what he can do in the end. Doesn’t matter who the bowler is; you can have the best bowlers in the world in the opposition and he does what he does. Always bats by situation. He always looks at the team situation and adapts his game accordingly."
"In my eyes, he’s the most impactful match-winner in the IPL. When he goes the opposition knows they've got a slim chance. Purely because of the presence of that man in the middle the opposition feels we’re not out of the game," said RCB skipper Kohli after the match.
The rival captain had no option but to concede that they were not beaten by a team but by an individual. “Sure is a tough pill to swallow. It was a pretty special innings on a pretty slow wicket. In a different league,” said Steve Smith during the post-match presentation.
Another South African played his part too
Earlier in the day, RR tried another opener in the season and Robin Uthappa’s 22-ball 41 exposed the flawed strategy of using him in the middle order prior to this match. Captain Smith too was back among runs (57 runs off 36 balls) after his struggle in the last five innings. However, another South African Chris Morris’s fantastic bowling effort (4/26 in four overs) was crucial in restricting Royals below 200, which looked likely at one point of time.Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage of IPL 2020 here.