On his day, AB de Villiers can set a cricket field on fire like no one else, and Deccan Chargers can testify that.
Some may say he has been hot and cold this IPL season. Some might call him a touch inconsistent. Some will stop just short of saying he is the best finishers in the limited-overs game. But the truth of the matter is that on his day, Abraham Benjamin de Villiers can set a cricket field on fire like no one else. And those who need to record testimonies can ring up Dale Steyn.
On Sunday, Deccan Chargers' skipper Kumar Sangakkara handed the ball to Steyn for the 18th over of Royal Challengers Bangalore's chase with a smile. RCB needed 39 off 18, and with the kind of form Steyn had run in this season, his six balls could have sealed the third win for DC.
Steyn had fellow South African de Villiers on strike. But it wasn't one of those challenge games they are used to in the nets. This was serious business. RCB wanted to resurrect their floundering campaign while Deccan had pride at stake.
Steyn's attempt to surprise AB with a bouncer first ball ended in a six over deep mid-wicket and a cheeky try at a slower one met its fate past the ropes on the wide long-on boundary. "Enough's enough," Steyn must have said and steamed in with a yorker on mind. Instead, a full-length ball was served and de Villiers helped himself to a flat six over extra cover. And when all brains in the stands were firm that now Steyn will give it back to AB, the South African batsman took a leaf out of Tillakaratne Dilshan's book and scooped it over short fine-leg. A couple in between and a single off the last ball made it 23 runs in the over. No prizes for guessing who had won that battle.
It was a big error to think that RCB will now take it easy. When AB is hot, he is very hot. Anand Rajan was the next in line to be punished. And it took de Villiers just three balls of the 19th over - 4, 4, 6 - to give partner Syed Mohammad the chance to finish it off with seven balls to spare.
While the entire Deccan squad - on ground and in the dug-out - stood stunned, de Villiers stood tall – with 47 not out off 17 balls, including five fours and three sixes – having helped RCB score 72 runs in 3.5 overs to win the game.
For those still in doubt, the stand-in RCB skipper Virat Kohli's words after the match summed it up. "When you have AB, anything is possible."
AB de Villiers in IPL 5 so far: 11 matches, 292 runs, 64 not out highest, Strike Rate 171.76, three 50s, 25 fours, 14 sixes