There was something about that day in Cape Town, that was just ripe for a genius to make a difference, in the match, and in the series. India's Test tour in South Africa during the lovable month of January was a much-anticipated event in the cricketing calendar of ours and it was only wise that AB de Villiers decided to enthrall us with an innings that is the most cherished memory of his from his last days of international cricket for South Africa.
Bowling first India had Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the bowler who can win them a game on his own on that Cape Town surface. It was a surface designed for South Africa to beat India and destroy their confidence in the first game of the tour but they had the bowler to take advantage of the conditions and he did.
He ran through the top order with his swing, his discipline, and class. He was India on the first day. Dean Elgar was dismissed by a beautiful outswinger that he was primed to edge before Aiden Makram realized the extent of a Bhuvneshwar Kumar inswinger. All of this happened prior to Hashim Amla's beautiful bat swing getting reiterated that there are other more spiritually divine things in the world.
South Africa were 12/3 and a nation of a billion people started believing. Bhuvneshwar Kumar did it, he was masterminding something really special. He took India to a position which demanded praise and commanded South Africa to come out with their genius. That's where the AB de Villers happened...
Yes, it was the over that changed the Test match and nobody saw it coming. The ball, the pitch, and Bhuvneswar Kumar were asking questions from the good batsman, that they didn't know answers of. But they were just good, now Kumar was about to come across a genius. AB de Villers arrived at the crease and deliberately ensured he faces the first ball of the next over.
This is where it all changed, Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled a beautiful outswinger which AB de Villers had all the disregard of this world for. He danced down the pitch with his mind caring as less about where it would pitch as less his bat swing did and he played the most belligerent shot over cover for four runs. Nobody had done that to India and Bhuvneshwar Kumar till that time. Bhuvneshwar ran in next ball, bowled another good ball, and this time it was over gully. Next ball, four runs. The other, four runs too..
The cost of that over was much bigger for India than the 16 runs it went for.
The momentum in our sport can often come across as a very boring topic that the cricket lovers keep hearing from those who play it, but, this was momentum seen, approached and changed in an over and everyone felt it, literally, all because of one man, AB de Villiers.
No other batsman in the modern day game has the ability to change a Test match in an over, it was not something that even AB had inflicted envisionment of before, but he actually did it that day.
It didn't matter what India bowled at one end of the pitch for the next hour and a half. De Villiers knew the importance of one and a half hour on that pitch, he knew how crucial a first innings score is that day and he knew how important that day is for the series.
He ended with 65. Took South Africa to 126 till his wicket, which was far too much a cost for just 4 breakthroughs. Momentum changed and South Africa scored 286. It was 286 in disguise of 400 on that surface. India didn't know and never recovered from what happened, to them and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. That's personifying genius, that's the aura of AB de Villiers.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar could've mastermind something extremely special that day before AB de Villiers arrived and changed a Test match in an over like only he can. It happens to be the memory will remain the most cherished one that his fans got at the twilight of his international career. Nobody at the time had the idea that these are the last days of him playing for his country and the later realization of this fact has just made this memory and him even more special to all of us.