Like a marauding hurricane that shows no mercy to anyone lying in its path, AB De Villiers on Wednesday decimated the Bangladesh bowlers at the Boland Park, Paarl, announcing his comeback in style with a blistering 176.
It was a treat to watch for the South African fans and cricket lovers all around the globe. However, an innings like that was the last thing that the wounded Bangladeshi Tigers and their fans would have wanted.
Bangladesh had already invited trouble for themselves after winning the toss and electing to bowl first at Paarl. The stage was set for De Villiers to unleash his wrath. His teammates Hashim Amla and Quinton De Kock didn't give him the chance to announce his comeback from injury in his own way in the first ODI as they helped South Africa to a 10-wicket victory. However, the dismissals of De Kock and Skipper Faf du Plessis in quick succession this time meant the arrival of the South African Superman at the crease with 32 overs remaining in the innings.
The scoreboard read 90/2. Shakib Al Hasan, arguably Bangladesh' best player, had just sent a well settled De Kock and Du Plessis back to the pavilion in a space of just three deliveries. More than anything, it was a sigh of relief for Bangladesh who had failed to claim any wickets in the first ODI. Little did they know that there was a bigger storm brewing. De Villiers produced one of the best he has played in recent times to sink Bangladesh.
An innings of 176 runs off just 104 deliveries star studded with 15 fours and seven humungous sixes, is exactly what everyone associates with a player of De Villiers’ class and stature. He started off slowly as South Africa needed a stable partnership to rebuild the innings. He combined with Hashim Amla to steady the ship. De Villiers focused on playing with the straight bat for the initial part of his innings. He kept rotating the strike and took advantage of the bad deliveries as and when they were on offer. He started accelerating once he crossed his 30-run mark. Bangladesh didn’t even realize that they were witnessing the calm before the storm. And once it arrived there was no respite for them.
De Villiers didn’t waste any time once he had settled down and South Africa were in a safe position. He never took his foot off the accelerator after that and it seemed like he reached his century, the 25th of his ODI career, in the blink of an eye. 68 deliveries was all he took to score his ton. Hashim Amla, who was supporting him well at the other end, also returned back to the pavilion on an individual score of 85 made of 92 deliveries. But, that didn’t stop De Villiers from playing his natural game as South Africa were well placed at 226/3. The ‘ABD storm’ took its most devastating shape after he reached his century.
He scored 76 runs in the next 36 deliveries he faced and that was due to the six huge sixes he hit in that period as compared to the lone six he had struck before reaching his century. Bangladesh seemed clueless. Their bowlers seemed helpless. De Villiers targeted the mid-wicket region as he pulled the Bangladeshi bowlers one after another for sixes of monumental heights. And when he struck the boundaries, he bisected the gaps with utmost perfection and precision. What the innings lacked was his famous lap sweeps and reverse sweeps. However, his strokes straight down the ground were a sight to behold.
With four overs remaining in the innings, De Villiers was just 30 odd runs short of joining the elite club of double centurions in ODIs. However, the shot that fetched him the most runs in his innings accounted for his downfall. An attempted yorker from Rubel Hossain went wrong and became a waist high full toss. De Villiers tried to launch it over the deep mid-wicket boundary again for a six. However, this time he only managed to get the toe-end of the bat to the ball. The ball landed straight into the hands of Sabbir Rahman on the deep mid-wicket fence.
The 33-year old’s whirlwind innings finally came to an end. He fell short of a double century once again. Bangladesh could breathe easy finally but the damage had already been done which would turn out to be a heavy defeat later on in the day. De Villiers is back with a bang and with that innings, Bangladesh also found themselves on the long list of ‘ABD Storm’ victims over the years.