Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 14-run victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad was highlighted not only by a dynamic batting performance, but also by one of the most remarkable catches of the series.
Alex Hales was just getting into his stride, and was on 37 off 24 balls in the eighth over as the Sunrisers chased 219 to win. That run was abruptly ended by AB de Villiers’ astounding catch on the midwicket boundary.
As the ball soared, with six written all over it, De Villiers made an almost gravity-defying leap, changed direction mid-air, plucked the ball from beyond the boundary while airborne, and then landed inside the playing field – all in the blink of an eye.
Virat Kohli, the Bangalore captain, said his teammate and friend continued to leave him in awe. ‘That was Spiderman stuff. You don’t do that as a normal human being. I thought it was going for a six, but he pulls it out, then the jump and then the balance. I mean, he can do freakish things but I am used to it now. His shots still leave me in awe but his fielding I am pretty used to. That was fun to watch.’
It was a catch that only De Villiers could make, said the relieved bowler, Moeen Ali.
‘An unbelievable catch. One of the best I have ever seen,’ he said. ‘When Hales hit it, I thought, six. But with AB you have always got a chance. What a grab! He is an amazing fielder, everybody knows that, and only he can do that.’
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However, the man himself played it down, saying, ‘I made it look better than it actually was.
‘I got into a bad position, the ball had a bit of a curve on it. The minute I took the jump, I realised it was a little bit outside my body. I just had to put that right hand out and luckily it stuck.’
De Villiers, along with Ali, led the charge with the bat to steer Bangalore towards a daunting total despite Rashid Khan’s 3-27.
‘I look to put a bit of pressure on the bowlers,’ said De Villiers, who won the Man of the Match award for his 69 off 39 balls and that catch. ‘I am human after all. Either I am going to falter under pressure or they are. So, I always try to put them under pressure. If I get one or two away, then I can a bit of momentum going and then it becomes a bit easier from there.’
Bangalore have now won three games on the trot, and are on 12 points with one match in hand, against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Saturday. A win there will give Bangalore a reasonable chance of making it to the playoffs, though net run-rates might still be involved.