'The best bowlers compete, they look you in the eye and never hide' | Crickit
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'The best bowlers compete, they look you in the eye and never hide'

By, Mumbai
Apr 05, 2023 10:25 PM IST

In a tournament like the IPL, the result is often determined by fine margins and it comes down to who handles the pressure better.

One of the key attractions of the Indian Premier League (IPL) each year is the young local talent on display. For South African great AB de Villiers, who admits he has an eye out for batters since he was one himself, there are a few who have stood out so far this season.

Delhi Capitals bowler Anrich Nortje celebrates the wicket of Gujarat Titans batter Wriddhiman Saha during the IPL 2023 (PTI)
Delhi Capitals bowler Anrich Nortje celebrates the wicket of Gujarat Titans batter Wriddhiman Saha during the IPL 2023 (PTI)

“Yashasvi Jaiswal looks very talented. I was in awe when I saw Tilak Varma bat the other day under pressure at the Chinnaswamy. He made it look really simple and it seems he has a lot of time while batting,” said de Villiers, who is an IPL expert for JioCinema.

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“Sai Sudharsan from Gujarat Titans is a very talented player as well. Against Delhi Capitals, he was the glue that held the innings together and allowed someone like David Miller to express himself at the back end. This tells me there’s a lot of maturity in that youngster. Every season, I’m just so surprised and impressed by how these youngsters keep coming through in this tournament.”

In many ways, de Villiers was the inventor of the innovative batting style we are used to seeing days. He would take on bowlers at will and access areas on the field that other batters couldn’t. It’s a risky game but he believes we will only see more of it as time goes by.

“It’s incredible how normal players seem to make it (innovative batting) look these days. I felt I was being really crazy when I tried all those shots back in the day, or pulled the trigger early to have a go at the bowler. I used to wonder what I am doing, but I would enjoy it so would keep going,” said de Villiers.

He added: “Now everyone is doing it and they make it look so easy. It doesn’t look like a complicated setup, which is incredible. It just shows you how the game is evolving and there’s no doubt in my mind that over the next 10 years, we’ll keep seeing this progression. The game will keep moving forward like this and that makes me very happy.”

In a tournament like the IPL, the result is often determined by fine margins and it comes down to who handles the pressure better. It’s a mental battle as much as anything and de Villiers believes that whether you’re a batter of bowler, a fearless attitude can help set you apart.

“All the world-class bowlers find a way to dominate batters when it matters most. The best bowlers compete, they look you in the eye and never hide when they’re under pressure,” he said.

“The bowlers I got on top off, I could see it in their eyes that they were looking for a place to hide. That was the trigger for me that it was time to take them out. The best bowlers keep coming back even after getting hit. Alzarri Joseph is a prime example of that at the moment, he keeps going hard and wants to win. Even Rashid Khan, he wants to get a wicket every ball.

Suryakumar Yadav, who has a similar 360-degree game to that of de Villiers, is going through a tough phase after a stellar 2022 season. The 32-year-old got three consecutive golden ducks in the ODI series against Australia recently and scored 15 runs in Mumbai Indians’ opener.

As far as de Villiers is concerned, though, Yadav’s dip in form may not be the worst thing and could help the Mumbaikar come back stronger.

“To be out of form is something I would fear so much. I very clearly remember when I would have a couple of bad knocks in the IPL, I would get anxious and feel I was very close to getting into bad form and need to get out of it. But the secret of it all is to not panic and not change your game plan,” said de Villiers.

“He (Yadav) has got to stick to what’s been working for him over the years. He took his game to a completely different level and honestly, it’s not a bad thing to come down a level and spend a bit of time there before you pop out again. You can’t always score a hundred off 40 balls. That’s something I had to learn the hard way as well, with the Chinnaswamy crowd expecting me to hit a hundred every game. So he’s going to realise he can’t entertain the crowd in every single innings. There will always be a sign when you get into good form, there will be a bad delivery or you’ll hit a good straight drive. You can then reset and move forward. I call them gears, he’ll just have to manage them. Between first and fifth gear, where am I at the moment. He’s probably in second gear at the moment, he’ll have to respect that and find a way to get to third gear and push on from there.”

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