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Indian Premier League 2021

Is AB de Villiers the best batsman in IPL history?

Is AB de Villiers the best batsman in IPL history?
Rupin Kale by Rupin Kale 2 minute read

On Tuesday against Delhi Capitals, AB de Villiers reinforced his legacy as an IPL legend, smashing 75 unbeaten runs in 42 balls.

The knock was so good that Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper David Warner, another IPL great, tweeted out saying AB de Villiers was a legend and his idol. Harsha Bhogle also took to social media to praise the RCB batsman.

“There are few constants in life. AB de Villiers for RCB is one of them” Bhogle wrote.


De Villiers is no stranger to words of praise, particularly during the IPL. While RCB have had their share of ups and downs in their history, the South African batsman has more or less been a consistently shining light for them since his debut for the franchise in 2011.

On Tuesday, de Villiers became the sixth batsman to breach the 5,000-run mark in IPL history and only the second overseas player to do so after Warner. He is the fastest player to the milestone and among the only two players to score 5,000 runs at an average above 40. Warner leads here again, averaging 42.10 to de Villiers’ 41.08. His strike-rate of 152.70 is by some distance the highest of the batsmen with more than 5,000 runs.

What makes de Villiers’ achievement extra special is that he has done it generally batting in the middle order, while the others near the top of the run-scoring chart have mostly batted between Nos.1 to 3. Additionally, he’s played for a team that has been inconsistent, to say the least. RCB have relied on him heavily to save their batting innings over the last decade, and a few times in this season too. For instance, he walked in at 60-3 in the 10th over against Delhi Capitals and took his team to 171-5 almost single-handedly.

De Villiers features in the top ten of many other IPL records. He has hit 245 sixes in the tournament, only behind Chris Gayle’s 354. He also has 40 half-centuries in the tournament and is the joint third-highest in that list.

He’s among the six batsmen to score three IPL centuries, with others in the list being top-order batsmen. The right-hander also features twice in the top five of the highest individual scores registered in the tournament.

While De Villiers’ stats for RCB are extraordinary, they dim slightly in the playoffs. While he has registered three half-centuries for them in the final stages, he has passed 22 just thrice in eight play-off innings.

Like every other sport, the debate for the best player in cricket is also determined by the outcome of their performances. While de Villiers has been phenomenal for RCB, the bucketload of runs he has scored has not yet resulted in a trophy. Yet. Bar Kohli and de Villiers, every other batsman in the top six run-scorers – Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, David Warner, Rohit Sharma – have won the tournament, playing major roles in those campaigns.

However, with other players stepping up for RCB this time around, this might just be the season where they go all the way. If Bangalore manage to clinch their maiden IPL title this year, de Villiers’ claim for the “best batsman” tag could get a lot stronger.

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