The fans were immediately treated to an AB de Villiers special as he stamped his authority once again on the league. Returning from an injury, he scored a brilliant 89 off just 46 balls and didn’t look like he was out of the game for even a moment.
The 33-year-old was at his sumptuous best as he played shots to all corners of the ground. Even though KXIP are supposed to play their home games in Indore, the fans in the stands were totally behind de Villiers. There were constant chants of ‘AB AB’ and he did not disappoint the fans one bit.
Although the Punjab side achieved an easy victory, not too much thinking is required while picking the player of the day. It was de Villiers who ruled the day and here is a look at how the innings panned out.
A sluggish start for RCB
Electing to bat after winning the toss, RCB got off to a poor start as their stand-in captain Shane Watson was bowled by the left-arm spinner, Axar Patel, in the very first over. Vishnu Vinod too soon departed for just 7 throwing his wicket away to Sandeep Sharma.
AB de Villiers, who had walked in at number 3, was left stranded at one end as he saw batsmen walking back to the pavilion one after the other. Kedar Jadhav was unlucky to be given out LBW off Varun Aaron as the replays suggested the ball was headed over the stumps. They were reduced to 22/3 at the end of five overs.
AB and Mandeep provide stability
RCB were tottering after the early blows and looked like going down quickly on a good strip for batting. To their benefit, AB was still at the crease and he needed someone to hang around with him for a while to resurrect the innings.
He found an able hand in Mandeep Singh who played the perfect foil for the Proteas batsman. Where AB was flourishing at one end, Mandeep was patient and did not attempt to match him stroke for stroke. He was focussed on turning the strike over and kept the scoreboard ticking.
The tactic worked fine and the innings began to find some momentum. They added 46 runs for the fourth wicket from 49 balls before Mandeep was dismissed for 28 off 34 balls courtesy a stunning catch by the wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha in the 14th over.
Mr. 360 at work
The RCB score read 71/4 after 15 overs and time was running out. At that stage, de Villiers was batting on 31 off 28 balls and had got his eye in. From then on, he took it upon himself to take the total to respectability. He went absolutely berserk and did not show mercy on any of the bowlers.
He began by smashing Aaron to long off for a lovely six and followed it up two breathtaking maximums off Marcus Stoinis in the next over, the second one brought up his fifty off 34 balls.
Stuart Binny was a mere spectator until that point but he too decided to join in with a six and a four off Mohit Sharma. AB made it worse for the bowler as he smacked him over long-on for another six.
The penultimate over arrived and this time Sandeep Sharma was the victim. He was dispatched to the boundary over point and the next ball witnessed a typical de Villiers shot as he went down on his knees and slammed a 97 meter six over deep mid-wicket. The next ball too went high into the night sky and landed in the crowd.
In the last over, he took a single off the first ball and Binny failed to connect on the next ball but managed to bring the South African on strike for the remaining three balls. AB missed the 4th ball of the over but muscled the fifth one over long off, totally off balance. The last one was in the slot and a powerful slog took it out of the ground over deep mid-wicket.
He finished unbeaten on 89 off only 46 balls that included 3 fours and 9 sixes. The RCB score was boosted to 148/4 at the end of 20 overs.
The target of 149 was not going to be difficult for KXIP on a small ground and a batting friendly pitch as they cruised to a win in the 15th over and won the match by 8 wickets. But it was a match that would be remembered for the masterclass put up by AB de Villiers, something that could be crucial for RCB in the matches to come.