ENTERTAINMENT  :   Cricketing Gems

When AB de Villiers stormed into the record books

Saturday , 27 February 2016

Widely regarded as the most talented batsman in the world today, AB, as he is popularly known, set a new world record last year, when he scored the fastest ODI century…

Pic/espncricinfo

AB de Villiers of South Africa made his test debut as a 20-year-old against England, at Port Elizabeth, on December 17, 2004. Although his performance was modest—28 in the first innings and 14 in the second—he has gone on to become one of the greatest South African batsmen of all time.

His debut in ODIs, a few months later, in February of 2005, too, was pretty ordinary. He scored 20, at a test-like strike rate of only 52.63. Since then, over the past 11 years, however, AB has totally transformed his batting style and has now gained the reputation of being one of the most destructive batsmen in the world today. His stroke-play covers a full 360° degrees, and on his day, he can tear apart any bowling line-up, on any surface.

Match-winner

More often than not, AB single-handedly carries South Africa to victory. The latest example of this fact is his brilliant performance in the decisive 5th ODI against England on February 14, 2016 at Cape Town. When the chips were down, with the Proteas reeling at 3 for 22, de Villiers first forged a 125-run partnership with Hashim Amla (59) for the 4th wicket and, then, with the help of the lower middle order, took his team past England’s target of 236. At the end of it all, his own score read ‘101*’, at an equally impressive strike rate of 104.12. Besides being an attacking batsman, he has also emerged as a great leader.

De Villiers has now featured in 200 ODIs, amassing 8,605 runs, at a phenomenal average of 54.56. He has belted 24 centuries and 48 half-centuries, with the help of 763 fours and 184 sixes. If one was to take a closer look at these stats, then one would realise that almost half (48.30%) of his career runs have been scored through hits past, or over, the boundary ropes. What is even more stunning is his fantastic career strike rate of 100.18. Only one other batsman in the world, Virender Sehwag, has a better strike rate (104.33), among all the batsmen who have scored over 8,000 runs in ODIs.

Fastest ODI century

On January 18, 2015, AB de Villiers etched a place for himself in the history of cricket, by smashing the fastest ODI century, in just 31 deliveries. He beat Corey Anderson’s record, established a year earlier, by a sizeable margin of 5 deliveries. Anderson had reached 100 runs in 36 balls.

When AB walked in to join Hashim Amla, the Proteas had already scored 247 for 1 in 38.3 overs against the West Indies. In less than an hour, de Villiers took an innings, which was expected to go well past 300, to a huge total of over 400 runs. So dominant was his role, that in a 192-run partnership (in 67 deliveries) with Amla, his own contribution was 149. Amla contributed only 33 runs in 30 balls, in this second-wicket partnership of 192 runs.

The first ball de Villiers faced, from Jerome Taylor, was dispatched for a 4, and in the first 3, he scored 7 runs. But, it really kicked off in the next over (the 40th), by Andre Russell. AB lifted the 3rd ball over mid-off for a 4; then, pulled the next one for a 6; followed it up with another 4 to mid-off; and then, scooped the last ball over backward square-leg for the second 6 of the over. At this stage (at the end of the 40th over), he had faced only 8 deliveries and was 28 not out.

The next over was a modest one, in the context of this phenomenal knock. Facing 5 deliveries from Taylor, AB scored only 11 runs. In the 42nd over, however, he simply went berserk. He smacked Jason Holder for three consecutive sixes, off the 3rd, 4th and 5th deliveries and then, ended with a cover drive for a 4, off the last ball. AB amassed 23 runs off Holder, in just 5 deliveries. When he hit the second 6 off the 4th delivery of the over, AB de Villiers established a world record for scoring the fastest 50, in just 16 deliveries.

In the 43rd over, he scored only 12 runs off 4 deliveries, with the help of a 6 and a 4. In the next, however, he smashed two 4s and took and a single, off the 3 deliveries he faced. He was 82* in 26 balls. In the 45th over, he faced only two deliveries, but managed to hit a 6 off the last… Taking him to 88 in 28 balls.

In the 46th over, he, again, went berserk. After Amla took a single off the 2nd ball, de Villiers got the strike. He smacked Holder for a 4 and a 6, off the 3rd and 4th deliveries, taking his score to 98, off just 30 balls faced… And then, he slog swept Holder for a 6, to establish the world record of scoring the fastest century, in a mere 31 deliveries. With the next six, off the last ball, de Villiers had scored 110* in 32 deliveries.

He had simply ripped apart the West Indian attack, by this stage… And yet, a lot was to follow. Against the only ball he faced in the 47th over, he hit another outrageous six, over the deep-point boundary. At 116 off only 34 balls, he had already clobbered 8 fours and 12 sixes.

The 48th over was a quieter one, in the context of this particular match, as only 12 runs were scored… And, de Villiers, who faced only one delivery, was content with a single. The 49th was an over that Dwayne Smith of the West Indies would surely like to forget. The champion smashed him for 2 consecutive sixes; followed by a 4; and then 2 more hits, over the ropes (sixes); followed by a 2. In all, he plundered 30 runs, off this single over.

On the 4th ball of the last over, sadly, he was finally caught at the deep cover boundary, with his individual score being 149 off just 44 deliveries, including 9 fours and 16 sixes, at an outrageous strike rate of 338.63.

In this memorable match, played on January 18, 2015, between South Africa and the West Indies at Johannesburg, AB de Villiers stormed into the record books by first scoring the fastest ODI 50 (in just 16 deliveries faced); and then, the fastest ODI 100 (in only 31 deliveries). A true champion, indeed!

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