Wikipedia defines blitzkrieg as a “military tactic designed to create psychological shock and resultant disorganization in enemy forces through the use of surprise, speed, and superiority in material or firepower”; Abraham Benjamin de Villiers redefined it yesterday at the Wanderers.
In the second ODI vs West Indies, the South African skipper promoted himself up the batting order and came out to bat at number 3. It was the 39th over, and the Proteas openers had just put up a record breaking opening partnership of 247.
Words cannot do justice to what happened next, but I’ll give it a try. So let’s roll it out, how it rolled out for me.
Like all Sundays are lazy by virtue, this one was no different. Late Sunday afternoon, it flashed across my scene: “AB de Villiers scores the fastest ODI half century in a mere 16 balls”. I knew those news update phone notifications would come in handy some day and they finally did!
As a de Villiers fan, I was hugely disappointed to have missed this and quickly scrambled to find the remote. I switched on the television, only to see that the runs against his name were already 82. At first I was let down by how delayed the news update had been till my eyes wandered to the number in the bracket, i.e. the number of balls he had faced. They were 26; that’s right, 26.
Just as I thought of looking up the record for the fastest century, Star Sports showed the same. It was 36 balls. Given the rate at which he was going, 10 balls for 18 runs seemed more than enough, and they were. On 98, he whacked a six, to bring in the century in style. He had scored the fastest century in ODIs; a 100 runs from just 31 balls. He smiled and raised his bat, but did not stop.
Every delivery faced was struck past the boundary. He hit sixes with an easy flick of the wrist and hit fours off the best bowlers. “Raining boundaries” would be an understatement because it was pouring!
To the utter dismay of everyone watching, whether at home or at the stadium, he was dismissed at 149: 149 runs from 44 balls, scored at a strike rate of 339.
Often referred to as the ABCD… of cricket, if he hit a boundary for every letter of the alphabet, he would fall short by just one. He scored a total of 25 boundaries, which included 16 sixes, thus equalizing the record for highest number of sixes in an individual innings.
His dismissal was followed by a unanimous sigh and subsequent applause from around the ground. If there was ever a need for a standing ovation, it was now. He made his way back to the pavilion just 59 minutes after he had walked out.
The commentator rightly said that if anyone had a t-shirt manufacturing business and could get some ready with “I was there on 18th January 2015” printed on them in about three and a half hours and take them to he ground, he would sell plenty. As much as I would have love to have taken a trip to Johannesburg and have watched this mastery of the game, breathtaking display of batting, act of class, I unfortunately can’t say I was there. But yes, I did watch it live holding my breath at each stroke, heart in mouth every time ball was in the air and cheering and applauding in the comfort of my room.
In case you missed it, I’m sure you can catch some highlights, sports and news channels got to be showing it at least for a while. If not, you’re lucky to live in the era of the internet! Go have a look, for I promise you, it’s eye candy in it’s truest sense!