Shimron Hetmyer nearly pulled off a heist for the Delhi Capitals, but for the brilliance of AB de Villiers, whose undefeated 75 on 42 balls had supercharged the Royal Challengers to 171, a score Delhi missed by a lone run. It was a classic high-quality thriller.
It felt like just another day at the office for de Villiers, as he wowed the audience. No shot resembled one from Villiers, the ones the public had grown used to for a long time. But there’s still a thrilling freshness about them – it makes audiences think they’re seeing the hits for the first time in their lives. There is no monotony of repetition – that’s the hallmark of true greatness, the game’s legends transcend the commonplace.
A typical Villiers stroke makes it difficult to assess the quality of the shots. Almost every shot that comes out of his bat is worth detailing, whether it’s for his imagination, his business, or his execution. But a limit run from Kagiso Rabada’s New Yorker was something of absolute beauty. De Villiers didn’t quite remove it from its roots, nonetheless it was a delivery that most batsmen would have struggled to even catch a glimpse of. Fast and scorching just outside the stump, not quite a Yorkie, but still a tough ball to stow, de Villiers just stepped his front foot away, opened up the bat face a tiny bit and turned the ball around. ball between the back point and the short third-man, posted to abort his cuts. The coup ushered in a splendid end to the game.
These days, de Villiers seems to prefer the straighter limits than the ones behind him. Maybe the general sluggishness of the throws could be the reason why he isn’t looking to exploit bowlers the way he wants, but rather generates power on his own, from those nervous forearms and the glittering bat speed. Just a six (a monstrous pull) and that Rabada gap were the only limits he hit behind the square. The rest were thunderclaps in the arc between cover and long duration. Poor Marcus Stoinis, who was named 20th just because Amit Mishra was supposedly too slow! But de Villiers shot him down, while the versatile Australian conceded 23 points. There was nothing new about de Villiers’ shots, but 175 games and some 5,000 runs later, he continues to marvel.
The glare of Hetmyer
For much of his still flourishing career, Hetymer’s immense potential only faltered and didn’t quite set an IPL game on fire. His hit against the Royal Challengers just might be that carpe diem moment, when he finally seemed to live up to his talent. It was an explosion of some of the sharpest hits to be seen in the IPL, dusting off memories of the ancient Caribbean flamboyance, hits that dazzled as brightly as the gold chain that hung around the neck of the Guyanese.
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Poor Kyle Jamieson would vouch for Hetmyer’s soft-hitting abilities. His first three overs had only disclosed 11 points. But the left-hander has just torn the big Kiwi apart, leaving hope for an improbable victory. Jamieson’s second ball in the final, a gift-wrapped full pitch, was lifted over a deep midwicket, smoothly and nonchalantly; the fourth disappeared on the deep midwicket, another keen hit from the bat; and the final ball has been fed for a long time. From a need of 46 out of 18 bullets, the target has increased to 25 manageable out of 12.
But it was a shame that Hetmyer only faced four of the last 12 balls and saw in agony his captain Rishabh Pant groping near the finish line. In the last round, Delhi demanded 14, but could only muster 12. A glorious blow was destroyed.