TELFORD VICE in Cape Town
AB de Villiers has made no sense for most of his 33 years, and he delivered more magical mystery mayhem in Indore on Monday.
Through a combination of injury and choice De Villiers missed Royal Challengers Bangalore’s first two matches of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) and South Africa’s last 11 games.
The last time he picked up a bat in anger, in a One-Day Cup outing for the Titans against the Cobras on March 23, he was out second ball for a duck.
So De Villiers might have felt underdone as he walked to the crease six balls into Monday’s match against Kings XI Punjab.
If he did, it didn’t show.
De Villiers hit the first ball he faced backward of point for four and hammered the fifth flat and furious over extra cover for six.
He drilled an unbeaten 89 off 46 balls, hitting three sixes and nine fours, and infuriating coaches who put great store in telling their pupils to practise, practise, practise …
If that’s what not playing can do for your game perhaps cricketers should step across the boundary as rarely as possible.
But, of course, not all players are De Villiers.
Not even Hashim Amla, whose 58 not out off 38 balls with four fours and three sixes was also scored in Monday’s match and guided the Kings XI to victory by eight wickets with 33 balls remaining.
That didn’t stop De Villiers from grabbing every headline going, and from easily topping the list of achievements by South Africa’s players after the tournament’s first eight games.
The only other South African batting highlight in an event that, going into Tuesday’s tussle between Rising Pune Supergiant and Delhi Daredevils, had delivered 16 half-centuries, was David Miller’s 30 not out that helped Kings XI beat Pune by six wickets on Saturday.
Pune’s Imran Tahir has been South Africa’s most successful bowler so far, and is the joint leading wicket-taker with five scalps in two matches.
He took 3/28 against Mumbai Indians on Thursday – removing the top order of Parthiv Patel, Jos Buttler and Rohit Sharma – and followed that by claiming 2/29 against Kings XI on Saturday.
Chris Morris shared the new ball with Zaheer Khan for Delhi against RCB on Saturday, and took 3/21.
The pick of Morris’ bunch was Chris Gayle, who was caught off a 145 km/h full toss.
It was the third time in their six IPL matches against each other that Morris has dismissed the juggernaut Jamaican.
Morris and Tahir could get another crack in Tuesday’s game, while Morris’ Delhi teammate, Kagiso Rabada, might make his IPL debut.
Across the dressingroom divide Faf du Plessis could play his first game of this year’s event for Pune.
If they do crack the nod Rabada and Du Plessis won’t expect to make an impact like De Villiers’.
That’s the stuff of genius, and they will know it.