Before the start of the series, if you were asked to pick one South African batsman who could make a considerable difference in the outcome of the series, a heavy majority of the cricket fans would have taken the name of AB de Villiers.
ABD showed a glimpse of his genius during the first Test where his masterful 71* went down in a losing cause before an embarrassing run out in the second innings.
In the second Test, the onus was on AB de Villiers again when South Africa lost both Elgar and Amla in a space of 10 balls and were still 88 behind Australia’s total. With memories of a batting collapse in either innings of the Durban Test lingering, ABD was still standing as a difference between both the sides and this time he made it count.
He has always been impeccable when it comes to concentration but ABD’s motivation also looked at its peak. And the unfortunate events that panned out both on and off the field, seemed to have ignited the fire even more.
De Villiers started batting from where he left in the first innings in Durban and from ball one, looked like a player batting on a different track. His first scoring shot was a soothing off-drive against Mitchell Starc and from there on, he batted like a man on a mission who had just one strategy - attack is the best form of defense.
On a track where others struggled to even stay on the crease, AB played all strokes from the drives to the reverse sweeps as he stayed unbeaten on 74 at stumps on day 2 handing South Africa a marginal lead of 20 runs.
On day 3, his job was to extend South Africa’s lead and complete a personal milestone of a hundred for the delight of his fans.
AB de Villiers looked unperturbed again and kept batting flawlessly. After churning out some singles along with occasional boundaries, he played an eye-catching cut shot over the slips to bring up his 22nd Test ton and the first since 4th January, 2015.
It took him 1,163 days to notch up another Test ton but certainly, it was one of his best that helped South Africa to gain some confidence back in the series after the Durban drubbing. This was also his 6th hundred against the Aussies, the most by any Protean batsman against the Kangaroos.
Towards the end, de Villiers switched the beast mode on and the Aussies had to succumb to the negative line theory to keep him at the non-striker’s end. The innings was no less than the display of true class and created a buzz on Twitter as the genius put South Africa in the driver’s seat at the end of the first innings.
Here is how Twitter reacted to another masterclass from AB de Villiers:
Okay people, sit back and enjoy this, Ab gana put in a proper show now!— Dale Steyn (@DaleSteyn62) March 11, 2018