While Virat Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal have aggregated more runs for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in IPL 2020, it is has been the superstar from South Africa, AB de Villiers, who has been their most impactful batsman in the tournament.
AB has scored 228 runs in 7 innings for RCB which has included three match-winning fifties. What is even more significant is the rate at which he has scored these runs for his franchise – at an incredible strike rate of 185.36. This separates AB from Kohli (strike rate of 127.36) and Padikkal (strike rate of 126.56) and this is what makes his performances unique and dangerous. He has the ability to score big runs at a rapid rate which takes the match away from the opposition.
AB joined Kohli at 90 for 2 in the 12th over against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Dubai. He scored 26 of the first 20 deliveries he faced before changing gears. He clubbed Sandeep Sharma for two consecutive sixes over cover and extra cover in the 19th over before registering a 29-ball fifty in the final over of the innings. It was AB’s innings which proved to be the differentiator between the two teams as RCB won by 10 runs. Instead of ending with a below-par 145, RCB ended with a slightly above par 163 for 5 – and the margin was a match-winning one made possible by the flourish provided by AB at the death. He scored 51 off 30 deliveries at a strike rate of 170. The collective strike rate of other RCB batsmen in the match was a meagre 116.3!
It was a similar story against Mumbai Indians, also in Dubai. AB walked out to join Padikkal at 92 for 2 in the 13th over. He remained unbeaten on a hurricane 55 off 24 deliveries smashing 4 fours and as many sixes. The highlight of his innings were the two sixes he hit of Bumrah – one beautifully timed back over the bowler’s head and the other a 90 meter hit deposited deep into the square leg stands to register his fifty. It was his innings (and a cameo from Dube) which helped RCB cross 200 and post a mammoth 201 for 3 in their allotted 20 overs. The match ended in a tie which RCB won in the Super Over.
AB gave his second Player of the Match Performance of IPL 2020 against the Knight Riders in Sharjah. Coming in to bat at 94 for 2 in the 13th over, he started cautiously scoring just 10 off the first 11 deliveries he faced. But then he suddenly changed into top gear launching Nagarkoti for two humungous sixes in the 16th over. AB got stuck into Cummins blasting him for a boundary and two sixes in the next over. He then tore into Russell heaving him for a few maximums ending with a blitzkrieg unbeaten 73 off just 33 deliveries. He put an unbroken 100 stand with Kohli – to which the Indian captain just contributed 22 - such was the dominance and the aura around AB’s magnificent match-changing innings. RCB’s run-rate had jumped from 7.62 from when AB entered to 9.7 when their innings was completed – they ended with 194 for 2 and ultimately won by a massive 82 runs.
AB has produced three match-winning performances and been in a different zone as compared to other RCB batsmen in these matches.
He has played a pivotal role with the bat in ensuring that RCB find themselves in the top 3 in the points table with 5 wins from 7 matches.
AB’s strike rate of 160.84 is the highest for RCB in the IPL. It is higher than even the great Chris Gayle – 152.72.
Just for perspective, Kohli has a strike rate of 131.41 (along with an average of 38.55) for RCB in the IPL.
The corresponding numbers for AB are 42.49 and 160.84!
That is why he is special!