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Saturday, October 24, 2020

RCB vs KXIP: Virat Kohli explains why AB De Villiers was sent at no. 6

AB de Villiers had scored 73 runs from 33 balls last time on the same ground against KKR. But against KXIP, he was sent after Washington Sundar and Shivam Dube.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: October 16, 2020 3:17:50 pm
AB de VilliersAB de Villiers of Royal Challengers Bangalore was sent in to bat down the order. (BCCI/IPL)

The sight of AB de Villiers walking in to bat at number six, below Washington Sundar and Shivam Dube, left fans and pundits puzzled when RCB took on KXIP in Sharjah on Thursday.

De Villiers, who a few nights ago scored 73 in 33 balls at the same ground, has been in a good run of form. Only thrice has the Proteas legend batted at six (or below) in IPL.

For KXIP, it was a blessing in disguise as they got to bowl at a couple of competent middle-order batsmen in Dube and Sundar (who have three fifties in 122 T20 games between them.)

Sundar and Dube scored 33 balls in 36 runs against. De Villiers had faced that same number of balls in his last match and scored 73 runs, proving why he is a different beast altogether.

“I think RCB is trying to use AB as MI uses Pollard, just come out in last 4-5 overs and hit,” wrote a fan to which former India opener Aakash Chopra questioned “shielding a player for AB’s quality?”.

“ABD batting at No.6 today, really bad move. Doesn’t matter what’s his weakness, in the end, he’s AB De Villiers. He just can’t come to bat when there are 5-6 overs left especially when he’s in that form,” observed another die-hard RCB fan.

“AB De Villiers has been playing cricket for 15 years, has faced all kinds of bowlers. Your best batsman should be facing the maximum deliveries if he had faced 25 balls, the ball he got out to would’ve travelled over the ground,” remarked former England batsman Kevin Pietersen on commentary.

One reason that probably could have been was that De Villiers has struggled against leg-spin in IPL since 2018. In 21 innings, where he has faced 170 balls, the South African has been dismissed eight times. It is the most De Villiers got out to a bowling style in this period.

Hence, when KXIP’s Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi were in operation, the promotion of Sundar was probably done with the intention of RCB aiming for a favourable matchup against two leg spinners and shields AB from them.

But the move failed spectacularly as De Villiers failed to adjust to the nature of the surface and was dismissed for just two runs. Chasing 172, KXIP skipper KL Rahul played a captain’s knock and Chris Gayle fired in his first game since January as Punjab went on to beat Bangalore by eight-wickets.

After the match, RCB captain Virat Kohli explained the reason behind it. “We had a chat (AB batting at no, 6) and there was a message from outside about the left-hand, right-hand combination. Sometimes these decisions you take, don’t come off. We are pretty happy with the decisions we took but sometimes it doesn’t come off,” he said.

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