How a call from his wife helped AB de Villiers make a successful IPL return
South Africa and Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman AB de Villiers says calming words from his partner Danielle helped ease his mind before stepping out on the crease for his first IPL 2017 match against Kings XI Punjabipl 2017 Updated: Apr 11, 2017 17:42 IST
AB de Villiers revealed his wife’s words of confidence were the reason behind his remarkable return to form immediately after injury.
De Villiers had suffered a back problem that ruled him out of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) first two matches of the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) season.
He played his first match of IPL 10 against Kings XI Punjab in Indore on Monday, and seemed to have left behind any fear of the injury that plagued him with a spectacular half century to help his team to a respectable total.
The South African batter — whose inclusion forced Chris Gayle out of RCB’s line-up for the match — struck 89* off just 46 balls to help the Bangalore franchise to a total of 148 for four.
Very few expected him to hit the ground running in his very first IPL game of 2017 and De Villiers said he pleasantly surprised himself as well.
Speaking with commentator Sanjay Manjrekar after getting the on-field microphone during Kings XI’s innings, De Villiers revealed that a conversation with his wife Danielle in the lead up to the match had helped overcome self-doubt that set in while he was injured.
“I did surprise myself. It is a more mental thing than anything else, it’s not like you become a bad player overnight, the rustiness you refer to is more self-doubt, which was there over the last few days,” De Villiers said.
“I phoned my wife just before the game telling her that I am doubting myself a bit but I surprised myself and played a few good shots.
“She was actually lying next to my boy, sleeping, when I asked for her advice and she had to call back a few minutes later. She told me that she backs me and to stay calm and that she was on her way, arriving tomorrow, so I think that was the inspiration,” he continued.
With his knock against Kings XI, De Villiers became only the ninth batsman to record 25 half-centuries in the history of the IPL.
His half-century came off just 34 balls as he recorded his 25th fifty in his 110th innings of 121 matches played in the IPL.
In total, he has now scored 3346 runs at an average of 40.21 and a strike rate of 150.24.
The cricketer from Pretoria also became only the second batsman after Gayle to smash nine or more sixes in two separate IPL matches.
De Villiers struck three fours and nine sixes in Indore on Monday and had previously hit 12 sixes during an unbeaten 129-run innings against Gujarat Lions last season.
It was the nature of his innings and ability to hit the ball beyond the boundary line at will that surprised most.
De Villiers was on 31 off 28 balls in the 16th over — RCB were 72 for four — when he decided to take matters into his own hands.
He smashed 58 runs in the next 18 balls, including hitting two big sixes that went out of the ground, to emphatically stamp his influence on the match after returning from injury.
(With inputs from S Pervez Qaiser)