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HindustanTimes Fri,15 Aug 2014
De Villiers turns the devil for Delhi
Subhash Rajta, Hindustan Times
Bangalore, April 07, 2012
First Published: 16:09 IST(7/4/2012)
Last Updated: 00:04 IST(8/4/2012)
Royal Challengers Bangalore players celebrate victory in the IPL Twenty20 cricket match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils at The M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. (AFP Photo/Manjunath Kiran)

If you are still flummoxed by those crazy strokes AB de Villiers played off Irfan Pathan and have no clue what to call them, then sit back and relax. Here's the answer to your query, and that too from the horse's mouth. “Well, it's a back-hand tennis shot, I used to play tennis a lot, maybe that helped,” he chuckled.

“There's actually nothing major to it. It was slightly tough to hit straight, so I used the pace of the ball.” Easier said than done, of course! What he actually did was reverse pedal sweep -- that perhaps describes the stroke the best after his own definition - a medium, pacer for a six over third man. Now, how easy could be that!

In a team that has been all bout Chris Gayle in the last season, the jolly South African plays as crucial a role as the marauding West Indian. He could be the aggressor as devastating as Gayle, and could also anchor the innings, as he did on Saturday night, as and when the situation arises.

Looking up to Gayle
But playing the second fiddle or living in the huge shadow of the West Indian hardly bother him. “Look, Gayle a world class player. We missed him tonight though we won.  He wasn't 100 percent fit but he will be ready for the next game,” he said.

The other person who deserves rich praise for the Royal Challengers 20-run win over the Delhi Daredevils is the old, wily Muralitharan.

The age appears to have left little impression on his skills and, more importantly, his enthusiasm.  He looked his usual self as the batsmen struggled to find way around his guile, and perished in the process.

And the wickets -- he bagged three on Saturday -- still seem to give him the same high as, say, when he had just started out. The most impressive part however was his willingness to throw himself around to stop every possible run.

All praise for Murali
“He's a legend of the game. He has always been a wicket-taker and he's still the same. Besides, he's a great human being and a great character. He has a lot to offer both as a player and as a human that he makes this team a better, cohesive unit,” said De Villiers.

What's more amazing is how he keeps himself ready and willing for another grueling battle. There are of course others his age around, but there's a slight difference in their situation.  While all of them, be it Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid or Adam Gilchrist, are leading their sides and playing crucial role, the champion bowler won't be a certain to make the playing XI. For a champion that he has been, it's unusual and uncomfortable situation to be in.

Yet, he's soldering on, and that too with that that big smile of his.


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