AB de Villiers faced no hiccups in switching gears from limited overs cricket to the longer format. He was in cruise control as ever. South Africa's ODI skipper, who was pelting sixes at will, much to the chagrin of Indian bowlers over the last one month, cut down on his big shots during the warm-up tie against Board President XI at the Brabourne Stadium on Saturday.
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AB De Villiers sweeps during his 112-run knock on Saturday. Pic/Atul Kamble
De Villiers smashed 18 fours, but refrained from hitting a six during his 131-ball 112 that helped South Africa post 302 which got them a slender six-run first innings lead against Board President's XI in a drawn match. Though the ball did not sail into the stands, De Villiers still managed to dazzle the motley crowd at Brabourne with his paddle scoop and reverse sweep.
AB rescues South Africa
De Villiers came in at a time when South Africa were struggling at 57-5, thanks to Shardul Thakur's early damage. The crowd, who had been relentlessly chanting, 'ABD ABD', had enough reason to rejoice as De Villiers scored 28 runs in boundaries from the time he arrived at the crease. From SA coach Russell Domingo's perspective, it was very important for De Villiers going into the Test series against India.
"AB last played a Test against West Indies in January (this year). We all know he was in rich form during the limited overs series. He wanted to get into the longest format of the game and get used to it after a few months' gap and he has done well. He left the ball beautifully and hit the bad balls. He ticked all the boxes," said Domingo.
De Villiers then took his own sweet time to build a 54-run sixth wicket partnership with Temba Banvuma (15) and a 115-run seventh wicket stand with wicketkeeper Dane Vilas (54). De Villiers comfortably swept, cut and drove the Indian bowlers.
If it seemed that Thakur troubled him a bit, it wasn't exactly the case. "When he hit me for a boundary for the first time, I asked him about the mistake I committed because according to me it was a good ball, but he played an exceptional shot. He told me it was a bad ball for him," Thakur said, revealing his drinks break conversation with the South African titan. It was no surprise to see most of the spectators leaving the ground after De Villiers was out at the stroke of tea — bowled by spinner Jayant Yadav.
Board President's XI 296 & 92-0 (C Pujara 49* KL Rahul 43*) drew with South Africa 302 (AB de Villiers 112, D Vilas 54, D Steyn 37; S Thakur 4-70, K Yadav 2-24)