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Indian Premier League 2020

Six possible explanations for AB de Villiers’ batting order demotion

by Sankalp Srivastava 4-minute read

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s IPL 2020 campaign has been smooth sailing so far, winning all but two of their first seven encounters.

They currently sit third on the table, with a settled batting order and every part of their unit performing its duty. Then, out of nowhere they decided to send Washington Sundar ahead of AB de Villiers in their clash against Kings XI Punjab.

Why did they do it? Here are six of our best guesses.

RCB are desperate to get back to losing ways

This isn’t one of the usual RCB seasons. They have a settled batting unit, a strong bowling line up and are one of the favourites to make the playoffs with the tournament just past its midway stage. They even named an unchanged XI, despite Virat Kohli’s usual tinkering ways.

Doesn’t sound like RCB at all, does it? What’s RCB without a bit of drama? Or a lot of it.

Do they want to give their fans a taste of how it was all those years ago? Or in fact how it was just a year ago? Whichever, perhaps they are just desperate to get back to losing ways. Why else would you send AB to bat at six? SIX? Well, we have a few more theories.

AB was in the bathroom

Yeah, well, after all the IPL’s being played in the UAE, and they love their biryani. Especially after his otherworldly performance against Kolkata Knight Riders the other night (73* off 33 balls, six sixes), maybe AB decided to treat himself to an extra helping of the delicacy, and it didn’t turn out well.

“He has taken away two overs of AB de Villiers mayhem,” Gavaskar quipped in the commentary box. The ‘dodgy biryani’ could be the reason that Sundar was sent at No. 4, with the AB mayhem that lit up Sharjah a couple of days ago instead lighting up the dressing room bathroom.

Good guy Kohli wanted to give KXIP a chance

A lot has been said and written about Kohli’s competitiveness on the field and how he often ends up rubbing opponents the wrong way. But this time, the opposition featured three of his best buddies – KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Chris Gayle – and their franchise are in all sorts of trouble, rooted to the foot of the IPL 2020 table.

Maybe Kohli thought it best to be the bigger person here and give his pals a bit of breathing space. And having played for the Bangalore-based franchise for 12 years now, Kohli has now formed a bond with the people there, half of whom seem to be associated with the Kings XI (Karnataka) Punjab.

Or maybe we shouldn’t be so generous to the India skipper…

Kohli wants to be the main man

That’s more like it, no? De Villiers’s knock the other day against KKR had left the cricket universe astounded. In a match where the no one could score at over a strike-rate of 160, de Villiers smashed 73 runs at 221.21, leading RCB to an emphatic win.

“But shouldn’t I lead the team to such victories? Shouldn’t I be the one causing ‘mayhem’? Why’s AB leading the line? Why am I not the main man?” Kohli might have thought. And then Sundar came in at four, Dube at five and AB at six. Kohli scored 48, AB 2. The difference between the two RCB stars in the run tally was 28 runs before the match, it’s 74 now. You do the maths.

Kohli wanted to outdo Smith

We’re all well aware of Kohli’s competitiveness, in all areas. Steve Smith, the number one Test batsman and Kohli, the number one ODI batsman, are always pitted against each other and Kohli doesn’t want to fall behind his Australian counterpart in any which way.

So after Smith took the novel decision of sending Ben Stokes to open the batting alongside Jos Buttler for Rajasthan Royals, Kohli’s sole aim was to top that innovation. So he sent in ABD at No. 6. Can anything top that? Nope, Kohli wins this round. He remains the GOAT.

RCB wanted to reward Sundar for his bowling so far

Washington Sundar has been a revelation this season. Bowling half of his overs in the powerplay, the off-spinner has an economy rate of 4.90 – the least for any bowler with over three matches played. He is one of the prime reasons behind RCB’s high fly so far.

Unfamiliar with what to do when one of their bowlers was actually bowling well, the RCB management might have been scrambling for a reward, and perhaps settled on rewarding the chap with a chance to bat ahead of ABD. And without wasting much of their time delving into the details of the strategy before going ahead with it, they just went ahead with it.


Sundar ultimately departed for a 13 off 14. At which point Shivam Dube, not AB, walked in, and all our theories were rendered meaningless. Or they found a new meaning? Guess we’ll never know.

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