How de Villiers KO'd Daredevils
All-star of the match
AB de Villiers in full flow makes batting seem like the easiest thing on the planet. There isn't a corner in the ground that he can't send the ball to. If you were Delhi Daredevils, this was a bad time to catch him in that mood. Needing a win to stay in the competition, Daredevils ran into de Villiers in regal form, and had their qualification hopes snuffed out.
This was such a typical de Villiers innings, not just aesthetically but situationally as well. RCB had been expensive with the ball. They lost wickets upfront in a big chase. And they fell back on the same two men that have bailed them out for the better part of eight seasons now. Not only was de Villiers walking out to scoreboard pressure, he was facing up to an unknown entity in the 17-year old Nepal legspinner, Sandeep Lamichhane, who had seemed to have found a nice rhythm in his debut IPL match. Lamichhane pinned de Villiers on the pad with the first ball he bowled to him. Failing to pick a googly, de Villiers strode a long way across, which eventually saved him as the impact ended up being outside off.
It was a minor, momentary lapse on de Villiers' part. For the rest of his innings, he did not give an inch away. De Villiers was helped immensely by Virat Kohli striking the ball imperiously at the other end. It afforded de Villiers time to get a feel of the conditions. Once he was sorted on that front, the strokes began flowing out of his bat. When he got off the mark, with an elegant punch through the extra-cover region, Kohli was on 23. Before long, de Villiers was matching his captain stroke for stroke. Margin of error is minimal against two batsmen of this class; Daredevils' bowlers were far from as accurate as they needed to be, and de Villiers duly punished them.
De Villiers doesn't usually favour a particular arc as he scores effectively all around the ground. But on Saturday, he collected four of his sixes between long-on and extra cover, while the other two were simply helped over backward square leg. He lost Kohli in the 14th over, with RCB requiring 46. But de Villiers' reassuring presence was all that RCB needed, and he provided them that, keeping a calm head and seeing them home.
The wow moment
He plays such shots almost every time he bats, and yet they never cease to amaze because of the ease with which he pulls them off. In the 19th over, Trent Boult's search for a wide yorker ended up in a full toss outside off. At Boult's pace, it isn't easy to switch position late for an improvised stroke. Not if you have de Villiers' electric reflexes. With one sharp movement across his stumps, de Villiers got outside the line of the delivery and creamed it over backward square leg. It had all the ingredients that make a de Villiers special: rapid late movement, stable base, still head, outstanding hand-eye co-ordination, and sublime timing.
- De Villiers now has three fifties in three successful RCB chases this season. He has scored a fifty in each of the three RCB wins he's been a part of.
- Saturday marked the first instance in two seasons of Kohli and de Villiers sharing a century partnership. They had five such stands in 2016.
What they said
"It's lovely batting with AB. We've done this many times in the past. It was a stiff chase, but in the mid-innings break, AB told me, 'don't worry, we'll get this', and that helped me get in the zone. I don't need to say much, it's been an honour for me to bat with him."
Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli
"It felt weird tonight, but the Mishra boundary helped my innings get off the mark. I started off slowly, and luckily Virat was batting well, so it helped me. I felt much better after 10-15 deliveries."
AB de Villiers
Akshay Gopalakrishnan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo