Only minutes after another stunning knock – an unbeaten 55 off 22 balls – to help the Royal Challengers Bangalore wallop 64 runs off the last 28 balls for a seven-wicket win against the Rajasthan Royals, AB de Villiers said he gets “very, very nervous and erratic” in such chases. It was a pursuit of 178 against the Royals, and de Villiers walked out after 13 overs with 76 needed from 42 and saw Virat Kohli get out the very next ball.
When it came down to 35 from 12, de Villiers tore into Jaydev Unadkat for three consecutive sixes and then sealed the match with a six off Jofra Archer with two balls to spare. While it looked from the outside like de Villiers went about his work with a calm head yet again, he later said it was not quite so.
“I’m very, very nervous and erratic [in chases] and all sorts of funny stuff [in my head],” he said at the presentation. “I try to hide it (laughs). I get very stressed like any player does before playing. I’m proud of my performances, I want to perform for the team and have any impact in us winning games. I want to show the owners I’m here for a good reason. I want to put the faith in me and repay them. [For my] family at home, people watching me, fans… all those things play a big part and obviously for myself.
“AB is always someone who’s ready to look at the team situation and adapt his game accordingly. We’ve seen him do this time and again. In my eyes he’s the most impactful match-winner in the IPL.”
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“I want to play as well as I can out there every time. [In the] last game I didn’t play as well, I didn’t perform my role as well as I should have, and I was very happy to have done that in this game.”
In the Royal Challengers’ last game, against the Kings XI Punjab, de Villiers was asked to bat out of position at No. 6 and scored only 2 as his team stumbled to an eight-wicket loss. Now back at No. 4, he scored his fourth fifty of the season, and probably the one scored under the most pressure as it was the first one while chasing. De Villiers said in such tight finishes, he aims to “impose” himself on bowlers.
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“I try and impose myself out there and show that I’m present, show them I’m going to stick to my game plans and if you don’t get me out then I’m going to be a threat,” de Villiers said. “It’s a cat-and-mouse game, or 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 and I’m going to do everything I can in my ability to turn the tide. Luckily for me that worked today.”
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De Villiers struck six sixes and finished with a strike rate of 250, but said he hardly got one from the middle of the bat.
“Honestly, I didn’t hit [even] one of them [sixes] really off the middle of the bat but close enough to the middle to get it across these boundaries,” he said. “There was a very big boundary on one side and when Unadkat was bowling [the 19th over], I was looking to the leg side… to be very honest, I was very worried because I knew I had to hit them well. Luckily I did hit a couple and got him off his game plan, and made him nervous towards the end. We got some important runs before the last over.”
Kohli said de Villiers adapts his game according to the team situation and is “the most impactful match-winner in the IPL”.
“AB always bats by situation,” Kohli said at the presentation. “AB is always someone who’s ready to look at the team situation and adapt his game accordingly. We’ve seen him do this time and again. In my eyes he’s the most impactful match-winner in the IPL. When he goes [to bat], the opposition knows they’ve got a slim chance and there’s a good reason for that. To be able to chase 50-plus in four overs and to finish off the way he did… it’s purely because of the presence of that man in the middle we feel like we are never out of the game.”