AB de Villiers: A hero from fantasies
A few years ago, when fantasy cricket in India was still in its nascent stage and their ads on TV not as frequent as cola sipping celebrities in the 90s, Ramesh Srivats, the founder a fantasy cricket website – while giving tips to make a perfect fantasy team - advised the users to always have AB de Villiers in their XI, no matter what.
Today, perhaps there are more fantasy platforms in India than Ecommerce websites but Srivats’s advice still seems relevant because AB de Villiers continues to create moments which leave the experts perplexed and opponents clueless.
But how? How does he do it, possibly every time? The other day against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rajasthan Royals had their plans ready. They had done most things right till the 38th over, despite not having the luxury of Ben Stokes with the ball, Steven Smith had it all in control.
It was just a matter of twelve balls before ABD decided to take the matter in his hands. The most cliched and yet proven tactic was to toss the ball to your best bowler and let Jaydev Unadkat bowl the last one. Analysts too had done the maths, feeding Smith with a crucial detail, the one that most certainly would influence even the most rigid of captains. Before this game, Unadkat’s 20 balls against ABD had yielded just 18 runs.
He had 35 in the bank today. What possibly could go wrong, and even if it did go awry a bit, the cushion will be soft enough for Jofra Archer to lean on them.
But then there is a reason Srivats wanted the fantasy players to have ABD in the team every time. It’s the same logic that would compel captains to have De Villiers in their teams always – his habit of pulling off the impossible against the run off play. ABD targeted the biggest part of the ground, hitting three consecutive sixes off a bowler against whom his strike rate was less than hundred before this game.
Gurkeerat Mann who had the ‘best seat in the house’ revealed what the genius what was the conversation before Unadkat’s over. With supreme confidence in his abilities, ABD told Mann that he will target the long boundary, because it does not really matter… if he hits them they will clear.
After the game, the Superman was modest enough to accept that the bowler had the upper hand. It’s a virtue to realize the importance of curbing the ego at times but only few manage to never overdo it to lest that tinker with their process and belief.
“He bowls those cutters on the stumps, and I did not want to take him on day. He had the upper hand there and I had to play those cards. I had to take him within his plans but I knew it was a couple of hits away from him starting to doubt his plans,” he said after the game.
Having spent just about seven overs with the bat in hands, the master threw dimensions out of the equation, made the pre-match statistics bite the dust, forcing the analysts to delve deep for some other detail until next time. But on the day when he did not want to face Unadkat before ultimately snatching away the victory for his team in no time, De Villiers did not just win the match he proved most of the theories wrong, except the one about having him in the fantasy teams, always!