A true game changer, one of the best finishers around, has led his national side and is certainly the epitome of the term ‘complete package’. He is a player whose name is synonymous with Royal Challengers Bangalore, and he is a crowd favourite, with a great fan following.
Abraham Benjamin de Villiers is the quintessential cricketer, who does everything to near perfect standards. When he fails, his expression betrays him and for a player who has taken his toll on some of the best bowlers in the business, AB still does not enjoy the Super Over.
In a chat with the media, RCB’s silent assassin spoke of what he goes through as a cricketer who executes some unbelievable shots and how he programmed himself to belt those two sixes that gave RCB two points against the Delhi Daredevils.
Excerpts from his media interaction:
You have said you do not want to play a Super Over, despite the two sixes the other night. How difficult is it to handle a Super Over?
It is a wonderful experience. It is just that you get six balls and it is a bit unfair to strike as a batter. The other night I just got four balls and if I did not score more than 10 runs, then we definitely would have lost the game. That kind of pressure is a bit unfair. We kind of go in and right away we got to score. I haven’t hit any balls before and my eye is not in. Normally, when I go out, I enjoy getting that time. I take about 10 balls to stay calm and then you accelerate and put pressure on the bowler.
In the Super Over, you don’t have that kind of time. The whole team is relying on you getting that boundary off each ball you face and it does get difficult. I like to run around between the wickets but to play such big shots does get a bit difficult. You don’t have time, and lucky for me that it came off in the last two deliveries.
Those sixes over mid-wicket – was it planned or where you aware about where the bowler would bowl or did you let instinct take over?
I just decided to go towards the leg side; felt a lot more comfortable doing that. And other than that I wasn’t thinking about anything else. It was just about watching the ball to make good contact. Lucky for me, it came off.
With most of the batsmen not having contributed, do you see it as an unhealthy sign here?
Not at all. They just haven’t had the opportunity to score runs. The middle order – four, five, six and seven – have only batted a few overs and in some games haven’t even batted, so it is a bit unfair to rate it like that. I always believed that the top three batters will always be the winners of the Orange Cap. Because four, five, six, seven don’t get that opportunity to score that amount of big runs. I believe all of us are in form and there is a good feel as I mentioned before. It is a matter of winning those big moments. If it is one ball, and if Arun Karthik or anyone else can get you one boundary in that one ball, that can win you games and that is most important.
Some of shots you play… shots that are unconventional but effective, where does it come from and do you plan them?
Those kinds of shots happen when I am in for a long time and have played 20-30 balls. It depends on the pace of the wicket, the rhythm of the game, when it becomes easy to read the bowler. When it is only four balls in one over, it is tough to be innovative and create those kinds of shots. I would rather keep it simple, stand still and watch the ball and try and hit it out of the park. To run around the crease and then hit them doesn’t work then. In a big game, you can always make it up, have a few dot balls but not in a Super Over. So that’s why I decided to stay back and clear the boundary.
At RCB it is a changed set-up from last year – no Kumble and Kohli as captain, How do you feel about it?
Kohli has been brilliant. Obviously, he is very young and inexperienced when it comes to that. Having said that, he has made some really positive moves; he has led from the front, he has the batting ability as well. He has shown a lot of leadership qualities, he will learn more along the way and in the next few years, he will become a world-class captain. He is already showing signs of that, and like I said, with experience he will get better.
Is there more pressure to win the title this time, having come close in the past?
It is pressure for us to win the trophy. We understand we are a good team and we haven’t won a trophy yet. It is an important season for us. I think we have had a great start and there is good team spirit. I have got a good feeling for this year. So far the close situations and the key moments have gone our way. We are playing really well and much better than last year. I can see a massive improvement, especially in the bowling department this year and which is very exciting for me. That always pays a big role in improving the confidence of the batters as well. When you believe that you have good bowlers who can defend any total, then you as a batting unit go out with a lot more confidence. Collectively, we are playing a lot better this year. If things go our way, and obviously we need a bit of luck here and there, we could very well win the trophy this year.