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AB de Villiers - A Phantom Who Regaled One & All In Test Cricket

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: May 23, 2018, 8:07 PM IST
AB de Villiers - A Phantom Who Regaled One & All In Test Cricket

AB de Villiers. (CSA/Twitter)

Even as the cricketing world kept on celebrating the likes of Steven Smith, Virat Kohli, Joe Root and Kane Williamson as the four modern day batting geniuses, one man kept doing what he did best for the South African cricket team. Having made his Test debut way back in 2004, de Villiers definitely belonged to a generation before the quartet of batting greats named above. But his brilliance with the bat in almost all forms of cricket makes him a player who transcends generations.

AB de Villiers played his heart out for his team, but just like several other South African stalwarts, his biggest disappointment would be to not have won a major ICC trophy with the Proteas. de Villiers, who was known for attacking style of batting, mostly in the shorter formats, was an equally impressive Test cricketer, finishing his career with an average in excess of 50. His contributions over the years helped South Africa to become and remain the top Test playing nation for most of his international career.

Here are the top five knocks of AB de Villiers in Test cricket, according to Cricketnext:

1) 106* vs Australia at Perth, 2008

South Africa had never won a Test series down under in their eight previous attempts and the Aussies were once again the favourites as the Proteas arrived in the summer of 2008-09. The onus was on South African batsmen to put up a good show as the bowling attacks cancelled each other out. The Proteas though were on the backfoot in the first Test at Perth after conceding a 94-run lead in the first innings. The Aussies scored in excess of 300 in the second essay too and South Africa were given a mammoth target of 414 runs to win the match. Graeme Smith scored a ton at the top of the order to get the ball rolling but with three wickets down at 179, the writing was pretty much on the wall.

AB de Villiers joined Jacques Kallis in the middle and that is where the match changed. Known for his stroke-play and ability to take on opposition bowling attacks, de Villiers curbed his natural instincts and stitched together a century stand with Kallis to take the Proteas to sniffing distance of a record victory. Kallis departed with the South Africans still needing more than 100 runs to win but de Villiers stood his ground and scored an unbeaten 106 off 186 deliveries to take the Proteas to a memorable victory. This still remains the second highest fourth innings total ever chased. South Africa went on to win the second Test and wrapped up their first ever series victory down under.

2) 217* vs India at Ahmedabad, 2008

South African pacers made a statement on Indian soil as they blew the hosts away for just 76 in the first innings at Motera in Ahmedabad. The Indian bowlers though were looking to dismiss the Proteas cheaply as well and at 117/4, the visitors were in a spot of bother. Enter AB de Villiers and the story of the match changed thereafter. The duo of Kallis (132) and de Villiers put on 256 runs for the fifth wicket to all but end India's hopes of making a comeback in the match. de Villiers scored his maiden double century to ensure the South Africans had batted India out of the match as the visitors won by an innings and 90 runs. de Villiers' 333-ball stay in the middle resulted in 17 boundaries and 2 maximums.

3) 278* vs Pakistan at Abu Dhabi in 2010

South Africa's two Test matches against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in 2010 were both drawn as batsmen from either team made merry on placid tracks. The Pakistanis though held sway for a while in the first innings of the second Test as the Protea top order was in jeopardy. It was once again down to the old firm of Jacques Kallis (105) and AB de Villiers to rescue the visitors from a precarious situation. The duo put together a 179-run fourth wicket stand to put the innings back on track. de Villiers was at his ruthless best against the Pakistani spinners as he plundered 23 boundaries and 6 massive sixes to post the highest Test score of his career.

4) 174 vs England at Leeds in 2008

South Africa had failed to win a series in England in their first four attempts after readmission into international cricket. There were hopes of a change in fortune in 2008 as the Proteas reached the British Isles with one of the best teams in the world. After the first Test was drawn, the South African pacemen gave their team a great chance in the second Test at Headingley by bowling the hosts out for 203 in the first innings. The Proteas needed a big first innings score to bat the hosts out of the match and it was AB de Villiers who laid the foundation of the same along with the feisty Ashwell Prince (149). de Villiers dropped anchor and camped on the crease for 517 minutes to take the visitors to a total of 522. De Villiers' knock of 174 was studded with 19 boundaries as he played some delightful cover drives against the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Andrew Flintoff.

5) 126* vs Australia in Port Elizabeth in 2018

Australia had never lost a Test series in South Africa, a record that the Proteas were desperate to change as the Baggy Greens toured the Rainbow Nation under the captaincy of Steven Smith in 2018. Australia made a head start to the series by winning the first Test at Durban by 118 runs. South Africa needed to come back strong in the series and they had to do it in the second Test at Port Elizabeth. A lethal spell from Kagiso Rabada ensured the Aussies ended up with 243 runs in the first innings. South Africa needed a good first innings lead to take control of the match but at 183/6 it looked like the Aussies would eventually take a lead. But one man was not ready to throw in the towel. AB de Villiers played one of the best counter-attacking knocks of his Test career as he took on an incisive Aussie pace attack. de Villiers scored an unbeaten 126 off just 146 deliveries, hitting 20 boundaries and a six, before running out of partners. His knock helped the hosts take a crucial first innings lead of 139 runs which helped them win the match eventually
First Published: May 23, 2018, 7:51 PM IST

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