Over the years, several greats have donned the unofficial title of ‘the best batsman in the world’. Over the past two decades, it was primarily between Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, and then Ricky Ponting joined the party later. It’s something we love to debate about and ultimately crown it to the one who we feel has mastered all the formats of the game. Taking the present scene into consideration, yes M S Dhoni is a champ when it comes to limited overs cricket, no one dominates like Chris Gayle, Kevin Pietersen is class, Alistair Cook is a run-machine and what a player Hashim Amla has proved to be in South Africa in both – Tests and ODIs, but who do you think is the best batsman? My vote goes to AB de Villiers. He is definitely underrated but I say this without any element of doubt that he is the best batsman in the business. He is talented, is a freak athlete, but above all he is a thinking cricketer and is suited for all the three formats of the game. You can play him as the best fielder in the side or a wicket keeper. Be it any format, if I am a selector then AB is the first name I’ll put in the XI. When it comes to saving a Test match, he can stay out there and bat out four sessions with a strike rate of 15, he leads the South African national side in ODIs where scores at will and in Twenty20 cricket, the knock he played on Thursday against Pune Warriors India is again a testimony to his brilliance. Ashok Dinda, a genuine seamer who didn’t err much was at the receiving end, but lets not forget that he has even done this to the best fast bowler, Dale Steyn in the last season. He has a wide range of strokes for every ball but what makes him special is his intelligence. He gets into the bowlers’ mind and thinks like one. We saw it at the Super Over against Delhi Daredevils when he hoisted Umesh Yadav for two sixes in two balls and once again on Thursday, he had anticipated the wide off the stump ball from Dinda and played a sensational reverse sweep.
In the end AB’s knock made the difference and Royal Challenger Bangalore overcame their away jinx. Like I have said earlier, winning and losing are habits and Pune Warriors India came agonizingly close but couldn’t pull it off. It was good to see Robin Uthappa realize that he can bat like that. Had he won it for Pune, this would surely have been one of the best T20 knocks. Like Pune know to lose from any situation, it’s Chennai Superkings who know to win it. In the first match on Thursday, they held their nerve, overcame the Shaun Marsh storm and registered their seventh win in a row. Suresh Raina became the first Indian batsman in this edition to score a 100; also this marked his first century in the IPL. He also happens to be the only Indian to have done this internationally in this format. It was due as he has been one of the best in this format and this season he hadn’t started off well. He is now more than making up for it. Marsh dazzled for Kings XI Punjab and got them very close; but as a team they were up against a unit, which is above individual brilliance.
Brief Scores CSK 186 for 4 in 20 overs [M Hussey 35 (29), S Raina 100 (53) *, A Morkel 23 (16), P Awana 4-0-29-2] beat KXIP 171 for 6 in 20 overs [S Marsh 73 (51), D Hussey 22 (16), D Miller 51 (26) *, D Bravo 4-0-34-3, Mohit Sharma 4-0-31-2] by 15 runs RCB 187 for 3 in 20 overs [S Tiwary 52 (45), V Kohli 25 (18), AB de Villers 50 (23) *, M Henriques 27 (13) *, A Dinda 4-0-52-2] beat PWI 170 for 9 in 20 overs [R Uthappa 75 (45), A Matthews 32 (19), M Kartik 4-0-29-2, RP Singh 4-0-27-1, Vinay Kumar 4-0-31-3] by 17 runs