AB de Villiers and Mandeep Singh were the protagonists in Royal Challengers Bangalore's 71-run victory against Rajasthan Royals in Pune, adding 113 for the third wicket to keep their hopes of a maiden IPL title alive. Mandeep made his first half-century of the season, and said later that help from de Villiers on technical aspects of batting had drastically improved his batting.
"I have learnt a lot from him already and whatever he has taught me, I have straightaway incorporated those things in my game," Mandeep told iplt20.com. "Initially when I was playing my shots, the completion of the shot would end with my head leaning towards the off-stump. I asked him for suggestions to improve that aspect.
"I initially used to think that the arms go wider while playing your shots and that's the reason your head tends to fall. He cleared that cloud around me and asked me to have my head still around the middle stump after the completion of a shot. I think even modern-day cricketers consider him their idol. It is like a dream come true to be playing with him."
Mandeep walked in at 46 for 2 in the eighth over of the Eliminator against Royals, and as de Villiers struggled for his characteristic fluency early in his innings, Mandeep accelerated the run rate.
"We just wanted to bat and try to build a partnership. We wanted to keep things simple and watch the ball closely and hit it," Mandeep said. "I knew if de Villiers spent a little more time in the middle, he would get ruthless in the end. I had the confidence that he would see us through."
De Villiers was pleased he could contribute to Mandeep's success, and said he feels he is achieving his goal of having a positive influence on the younger players in the team. "What would life be without having a good influence on other people? That is what it is all about," de Villiers said. "I am trying to have a positive impact on some young players in the team and if Mandeep says I have, it makes me a very happy man."
De Villiers started slowly, scoring 16 runs off his first 20 balls, but kicked on to make 50 off his last 18. He praised Mandeep's innings and said it had helped him get his momentum back.
"A lot of credit should go to Mandeep. To be honest, I didn't play very well," de Villiers said. "It was not as fluent a knock as I wanted it to be but I guess it all comes with experience. I struggled in the first few overs but I fought through and I was lucky to be there in the end to express myself."
Royal Challengers were 60 for 2 at the end of the 10th over, but the innings gained momentum from there and 120 runs were scored in the last 10 overs. De Villiers said the initial target was 140 considering it wasn't an easy pitch to bat on.
"This wasn't an easy wicket to bat on. I wouldn't have been able to get those shots away in the slog overs had I just come in to bat. I was looking at 140 initially. But with that big 15th over against Ankit Sharma, the momentum changed and the target shifted to 150-160. We played even better towards the end and managed to get 180."