NEW DELHI, (Reuters) – Fit-again South African AB de Villiers was pleasantly surprised to discover he has lost none of his touch after the batsman blasted a swashbuckling 89 not out in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match on Monday.
The 33-year-old, who has taken a break from tests to manage his workload, missed the final of South Africa’s domestic 50-overs tournament with a back injury, which also kept him out of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s IPL opener against Delhi.
There was no sign of any rust, however, as the player celebrated for his ‘360-degree’ batting prowess clobbered nine sixes and three fours in a 46-ball blitz against the Kings XI Punjab at Indore’s Holkar Cricket Stadium.
His brilliant innings helped a slow-starting Bangalore set a competitive 148 for four total but the hosts proved too strong in their reply, easing to an eight-wicket victory with 33 balls to spare.
“I did surprise myself and played a few good shots,” De Villiers, who was wearing a microphone, told the commentary team while he was fielding, admitting he had periods of uncertainty during the layoff.
“It’s not like you become a bad player overnight, the rustiness is more self-doubt,” he added.
A couple of his sixes sailed out of the stadium and such was his timing that even when he charged a Mohit Sharma delivery which turned out wider than he had assumed, De Villiers made a late adjustment to send it over the long-off boundary.
“Mr 360 is back! Genius @ABdeVilliers17,” tweeted India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, no mean six-hitter himself.
Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner also doffed his hat at the South African, calling him “best in the business” while many of de Villiers’ compatriots hailed the knock.
“If I was a commentator I’d do a mic drop and enjoy the show… No words can describe @ABdeVilliers17… wow!” Proteas paceman Morne Morkel tweeted.