Everyone calls AB (AB de Villiers) a 360 degree cricketer. There is no such move that he cannot play. Even seeing him hit the net was a memorable experience. Everyone was excited to see how he will play the next ball. We wonder how he improvises so much in a match and tries all these shots on the pitch so gently!
We all prefer to perfect a new shot in the net before we think of trying it in a match. AB’s style is exactly the opposite. He was only playing straight into the wicket while hitting the net at the time. I’ve never seen him play an unconventional shot in the net, he would hit the “V” or shoot or cut it according to the merits of the ball.
I once dared to ask him to play these shots. I was actually a little afraid to ask him as he performs these shots day in and day out, but I still approached him once. And he said it was about trust. He insisted on the need for self-confidence and support.
Superman: AB de Villiers has a plethora of plans. – Sportzpics / BCCI
It underscored to me the need to believe that you are the key to success. He insisted on observing how many unusual shots attempted were actually connected with confidence and carried the same confidence in a game. He also told me to come back with the same confidence in a game and not to hesitate in the fold.
I clearly remember another incident. When we played against the Chennai Super Kings in Bengaluru, I missed Dhoni’s crush and he finished the game in the last two-three overs. Obviously, when you miss a surprising chance from a player of Dhoni’s stature, no one comes up to you and says nothing.
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My mood was naturally bad, I blamed myself for the loss. The locker room was quiet, there was no chatter. I used to sit next to AB. Everyone was having dinner and planning to get on the bus. Only AB came and told me to take it as an apprenticeship rather than get bogged down.
He told me to take it in my stride, take it as a lesson, and move on. It makes you think cricket is not here and I should be ready to grab the next opportunity.
(Yogesh Takawale was one of the Mumbai Indians 2008-2010 and the Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2014. He has played 16 games as a wicket-beater keeper and is one of the very few to have opened with Sanath Jayasuriya and Chrish Gayle and played under Captain Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli)
As told to Amol Karhadkar