South Africa cricketer AB de Villiers has proclaimed that he is in the best form of his life as the Proteas look to barge in for a 3-0 Test series whitewash over a struggling India. The 33-year-old batting champion bounced back in Test form after a decent break from cricket last month, and has contributed with the bat in both the first Tests of Cape Town and Centurion, which helped the hosts to acquire an unassailable 2-0 lead.
As reported by Cricbuzz, AB de Villiers said that he felt in the best form of his life. He said that as in cricket nothing is guaranteed, he was happy to be where he is at. To quote his words,
“I feel like I am in the best form of my life right now. Once again, I have touched on it earlier, that I am never guaranteed results, never guaranteed five hundreds in a row. I could get five ducks in a row but I am happy where I am at. And I am playing well and I am doing my preparation well and I am meeting the ball well, it is just upto the day to take care of itself. So I don’t think like that and I feel at the best phase of my life right now.”
De Villiers feels as fit as he felt in his debut in 2004
De Villiers also said that physically, he was feeling great too. Despite the regular bumps and a few ailments here and there, the 33-year-old said that he was as fit as he had ever been in his 13-year-old career. During the last year Champions Trophy in England, the batsman was seen to be having hamstring issues, but in the ongoing Tests against India, he looks fit as a fiddle.
“It feels like my debut back in 2004 when I started as an opening batsman then a keeper at no.7 and back to opening, and up and down. It’s funny with my comeback now similar to back in the day. But it has been very enjoyable, I feel very fresh, and I have said it on numerous occasions in the last few months that I just feel like just getting out there and playing, and that’s what a good break does to you.”
“I am feeling in a good space and the energy is good and my body is feeling right at the moment. I do have niggles but that is part of Test cricket. You never get up feeling a hundred percent. The back is still there, the ankles and knees, everything is hurting at times but to be playing the ultimate form of the game again, it has been a great challenge.”
De Villiers’ performance against India
De Villiers kicked off the India series with a pace setting 84-ball 65 runs. The Day 1 track at Newlands in Cape Town was a danger zone, especially after India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s strikes had left the hosts calming their nerves at 12 runs for a loss of 3 early on.
Just like the first Test, De Villiers re-applied his counter-attacking tactics in the Centurion Test, scoring 80 runs in a situation when it looked difficult to score 8, when the Proteas were at 3 for 2.
A key factor which differentiated De Villiers’ first knock from the second, was the batsman’s ability to not let the bowlers continue their dominance. De Villiers revealed that it was random for him as he was improvising and had not formulated the tactic beforehand. He said,
“I have always said that I don’t feel there’s a big difference between the three formats. It is just a mindset – applying yourself to the wicket and conditions and that’s always been the way that I have played. So no definitely not it is something that I force. I watch the ball and I just play.”
The brilliantly balanced Proteas squad
De Villiers spoke about the presence of senior players in the squad, such as Faf du Plessis, and said that there is abundance of confidence and character in the team individuals, which boosts the strength of the whole team collectively. He said,
“There is a great group of senior players at the moment. Guys who have the good hearts and the right intentions to take this team to higher levels and to newer grounds. Faf has been leading the side well, there is confidence as well, and it is easy to fit in as the senior player because I was captain not long ago and I know what the captain needs from his senior players. The kind of energy you need and the kind of advice you need at times and also sometimes also to get out of the captain’s space. So I understand that’s natural and understand all of us have been leaders in the past and I think we really work together well as a team.”
Proteas will be watchful of India in the last Test
South Africa cricket team have less than a week to go before the third and final Test against India at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. Given the backdrop of the 2015 series in India, where the men in blue won the series 3-0 owing to the spin-congenial pitches, there is a strong and increasing urge among the South Africans to emulate a similar 3-0 win over the top-rated Test team.
While De Villiers had no reason to not think about the prospects of a total clean-sweep over India, he was well aware that the men in blue would be looking to bounce back to prevent a white-wash by all means. He said,
“I can’t remember what happened, what happened in 2015, oh we won the ODI series, yeah? (3-0) would be great, India have really impressed me and surprised us in terms of the bowling department so they have showed lot more skill and definitely there is lot more pace than we expected. So we know we are going to have to be watchful in that last Test.”
“They will come out fighting and wanting to finish well in the Test series and wanting to take that confidence into the ODIs but obviously we would love to beat them 3-0. But you are never guaranteed of a result. We know we are going to have to dig deep again and make sure that like in the last two Tests we adapt to the conditions and put in our best type of cricket in the conditions.”