New Delhi: Ahead of their third match of Indian Premier League 2017, Royal Challengers Bangalore got a major boost as AB de Villiers, who missed out on the first two matches due to a back injury, was fit to join the squad. While the South African mentioned his availability through a video, the cricket fraternity wasn't sure whether he could deliver from the first match since he was coming back after recovering from a back injury.
With two formidable overseas pacers in Tymal Mills and Billy Stanlake, and with Shane Watson leading the side, RCB took a bold step as they replaced Chris Gayle with AB.
Much to the dismay of RCB fans, the South African arrived to the crease quite early as Kings XI Punjab spinner Axar Patel bowled Watson off the last ball of the first over.
From the word go, AB looked quite composed at the crease. He hit his first six of the innings in the third over - when he smashed Mohit Sharma over covers. That was a superb shot and it was the start of another mind-blowing innings.
But Glenn Maxwell's men fought back by removing Vishnu Vinod (7) and Kedar Jadhav (1) in quick succession. AB then got some decent support in Mandeep Singh, who stitched vital 46 runs for the fourth wicket stand, before becoming Varun Aaron's second victim.
As Mandeep walked back to the pavilion, the RCB scoreboard read 4/68 in 13. 1 overs and there weren't any happy faces in the RCB dressing room. New batsman Stuart Binny added another four runs with AB off the next 11 balls. With five overs remaining, Bangalore just had 71 runs on board with Binny (2*) and AB (31*) at the crease.
It was one of those moments where the fans and the experts were confident that AB could take the team to a total of around 120 runs if he batted throughout the innings. With Watson back in the pavilion and with Virat Kohli missing the match due to injury, it was time for de Villiers to prove his mettle once again.
And he did exactly that! After hitting a six off Aaron's final over in the 16th over, de Villiers hit two more sixes off the next over bowled by Marcus Stoinis to complete his fifty off just 34 balls. What followed next was the reason why AB is hailed as "Mr. 360."
He thrashed KXIP bowlers to all parts of the ground and scored 38 more runs off just 12 balls to take his team to a respectable 148-run target. Barring fine leg, his powerful shots landed to all parts of the ground.
It was no way a winning total, but with no support from the other end, AB had done the unthinkable once again as the cricket fraternity had three words to praise the master batsman – "What a player."
Gayle is extremely dangerous when he gets going, but with his brilliant consistency and plethora of unorthodox shots under his belt, de Villiers undoubtedly is the most dangerous batsman in world cricket.