Ab De Villiers, A career as one of the Best in the IPL

Ab De Villiers Retires from the IPL

Ab De Villiers has recently called time on an IPL career, which saw India embrace the 360-degree superstar as one of their own. As a batter, De Villiers achieved almost everything possible in the IPL. He brought his flexibility to the T20 league, and performed a variety of roles from batting at the top to the middle order, and keeping wickets as well. With Virat Kohli, Ab De Villiers formed a brilliant partnership, and both were almost always included in RCBs discussions.

Ab De Villiers made his first IPL century in the Delhi Daredevils

Before going to RCB though, Ab De Villiers spent three years in the Delhi Daredevils. He was a part of a line-up full of stars with Sehwag, Gambhir, Dilshan and a young David Warner in the squad. In the first three years, Ab De Villiers was in an out of the tournament with international commitments, but still made some strong contributions including a century in 2009.

With RCB, Ab De Villiers was not among the leading run-scorers early on, but always had a set of innings that changed the course of a game on his own. In 2011, he supported Chris Gayle well and the likes of Gayle, De Villiers, and Virat Kohli started a brilliant combination that took them to the finals. In 2012, RCB failed to make the playoffs, but Ab De Villiers still struck well in the IPL. He had some wonderful knocks with a 47 off 17, among one of the best death-over knocks in the IPL.

Through these two seasons, Ab De Villiers doubled up as  the wicket-keeper and also took the opening spot to allow the top three to have RCBs best players. In 2014, Royal Challengers again failed to qualify, and the season was a tough one with Chris Gayle’s form dipping. De Villiers however continued his superhuman efforts, winning RCB few games from nowhere. His 89 against Sunrisers Hyderabad is one of his best in the IPL as he completed a chase when Bangalore were struggling. The knock is famous for a six which was hit straight into a dust-bin in the Sunrisers dugout.

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2015 was probably his best season in the initial stages up until the point. He made more than 500 runs, took RCB to the playoffs and made a magnificent century against the Mumbai Indians. He took up the role as a finisher nicely, and was a threatening prospect with his quickfire 20s and 30s. RCB though couldn’t get past the second qualifier, extending their search for an IPL Title.

In 2016, Ab De Villiers was an integral part of their run to another IPL Final. He was in top form through the tournament, making a century against Gujarat Lions, holding a record partnership with Virat Kohli. He also had six half-centuries, and won RCB the first qualifier single-handedly. With RCB struggling in the powerplay, Ab De Villiers launched a counter-attack to chase down a target in the 160s set by the Gujarat Lions. He was out in an unlucky manner in the finals though, and couldn’t contribute enough to help them win.

Ab De Villiers and Virat Kohli had a record double hundred stand against Gujarat in 2016

2017 didn’t start too well for Bangalore. Virat Kohli was out for a good part of the first half, and Ab De Villiers had injury concerns throughout the tournament. He took up the captaincy in Kohli’s absence, but the tournament did not get going for RCB. They finished in the bottom, and De Villiers only made one fifty in a defeat in the season.

RCBs struggles continued in 2018 and 2019, but Ab De Villiers was in some good form. He announced his international retirement after the 2018 season, but was in brilliant touch in the IPL with eleven fifties across the two years.

After a long struggle, RCB finally managed to make the playoffs in IPL 2020. 2020 was among the last time the IPL saw Ab De Villiers pull of his superhuman efforts. He made five fifties, was the lone fighter in the eliminator, and played so well despite not having played cricket for a while. His 73 against Kolkata remains one of his best as the knock came on a slow track in which everyone struggled.

IPL 2021 was his last season, and the season was a true indicator that the end was coming. De Villiers had two fifties in the first leg of the season, forming a strong bond with Glenn Maxwell, but in the second leg he looked far from comfortable. The runs weren’t as fluent, the finishing touches weren’t there and Ab De Villiers finally decided that it was time to move on.

He enjoyed a brilliant run as one of the best players in the IPL, and was an asset to Bangalore with his multi-utility skills. He was a great friend to Virat Kohli, and with RCB starting its journey under a new captain, they will be eager to have Ab De Villiers back as a mentor.