AB de Villiers makes his return to International Cricket
Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman AB de Villiers made his return to international cricket in the 2 Test series against Australia in South Africa.
Having sustained a hand injury which required surgery in September during the Champions League T20 in which he was playing for RCB, de Villiers had been sidelined from playing cricket. He had even missed the T20 and ODI leg of the Australian’s tour which was supposed to be his first as the South African limited overs format Captain.
In his first outing in the first Test at Cape Town, de Villiers was a part of the collapse that saw SA crumble from 49/1 to 96 all out in reply to Australia’s first innings score of 284. The Test saw a bigger twist when Australia were shot out for 47 in their second innings, setting SA a target of 236 which they proceeded to chase for the loss of just 2 wickets. Debutant paceman Vernon Philander was South Africa’s big gun with his match haul of 8/78 which included the unbelievable 5/15 in the second innings.
As the new Vice Captain of the side, AB de Villiers played an important role in the win despite not having to bat in the second innings, discussing field settings and decision referrals with Graeme Smith and fielding in the slips.
He weighed in significantly in the second Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, top scoring with 64 in SA’s first innings total of 266. Batting with Ashwell Prince, de Villiers added 112 runs to take South Africa to 241 after the loss of quick wickets had them at 129/4 at one point. They were dismissed within the space of 6 balls and SA promptly folded for 266.
Australia began strongly in their first innings, the openers adding 174 runs for the first wicket and threatening to run away with the Test when de Villiers pluck a tough catch at first slip to get SA a crucial breakthrough. Aus lost their remaining wickets for just a 122 runs, bringing SA back in to the game. SA’s second innings too saw a crucial contribution from de Villiers who made 73 runs in his 147 run partnership with Hashim Amla for the fourth wicket, taking them from 90/3 to 237/4. Another poor show by the lower middle order saw SA being bowled out for 339, setting Australia a target of 310.
Vernon Philander starred yet again in their defence of the total, taking 5/70 but crucial contributions from Ricky Ponting, Usman Khwaja, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson saw Australia pull off a record chase at the ground, winning in tense circumstances by just 2 wickets.
The scoreline of 1-1 showed how closely the sides were matched, how significant each contribution was from every batsman, bowler and fielder. Although out of action for nearly two months and out of touch owing to his recovery from a tricky surgery, AB de Villiers proved his class with his runs in a tense and hard fought series, the mark of a true batting great.