• AB proves his mettle at three

    After another match-winning knock for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, AB de Villiers has proved that he should bat at No 3 in T20 cricket.

    De Villiers hit 66 off 38 balls as RCB eliminated the Rajasthan Royals to book a second play-off game against the Chennai Super Kings on Friday.

    RCB won by 71 runs, thanks in large part to a 113-run partnership between De Villiers and Mandeep Singh (55 not out).

    Despite receiving praise after the game, the humble De Villiers suggested he didn’t play at his best.

    ‘To be very honest I didn’t play very well. I have to give all credit to Mandeep Singh for the way he played,’ De Villiers told iplt20.com.

    ‘It was not as fluent a knock as I wanted it to be but I guess it all comes with experience. I struggled in the first few overs but I fought it through and I was lucky to be there in the end to express myself.’

    De Villiers scored his only hundred of the tournament batting at three and his average is also best when he walks out after the fall of the first wicket.

    ‘It does [batting at three] give me a chance to pace my innings and build it,’ he said. ‘This wasn’t an easy wicket to bat on. I wouldn’t have been able to get those shots away in the slog overs had I just come in to bat.

    ‘I tried to do it earlier in my innings but I failed. That is why I say a lot of credit should go to Mandeep. He helped me get a bit of momentum by my side and it paid off.’

    Statistically this has been De Villiers’ most successful season yet in the history of the IPL on almost all fronts. He has scored 512 runs in 15 games at an average of 51.20 and a strike-rate of 176.55.

    In 2009, his previous best season, De Villiers’ average was marginally better at 51.66, but on everything else he has improved. His new highest score of 133 not out was achieved less than two weeks ago, while he has scored two fifties and quite a few scores in the forties.

    RCB will now face CSK and the winner will come up against the Mumbai Indians in the final on Sunday. RCB were finalists in 2009 and 2011 but have never won the IPL, and De Villiers acknowledged that it would be a tough task again.

    ‘It is going to be a very difficult match. We know that CSK are a very good and tough team to beat. We would love to go to Ranchi and beat them. It would be amazing if we can then go a step further and win the trophy. Right now we have to take it step by step.’

    To see a comparison of AB’s IPL stats, click here.

    Photo: Shaun Roy/SPORTZPICS/IPL/BCCI