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‘Watched him bat in the nets for ages’ – How de Villiers & Kohli helped each other improve

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

AB de Villiers, while in conversation with Harsha Bhogle on Cricbuzz, delved into his chemistry with Royal Challengers Bangalore teammate Virat Kohli, and revealed how the two helped each other improve on various aspects of batting.

The duo, who have been together at RCB for nine years, extensively discussed the nuances of playing short balls, and Kohli picked up some of de Villiers’ tips, even as the South African batsman improved his approach against spinners after watching the Indian captain bat in the nets.

“I grew up on South African wickets, back in the day when they were very quick,” he said when asked whether he helped Kohli with his short-ball game. “And the aggressive nature of the South African bowlers at the domestic level. They always test you on the short ball first and then they go top of off.

“It’s obviously a bit different in India where you’re not exposed to that kind of stuff growing up. I never really thought of playing the short balls, [it was a] more natural thing because I grew up that way.

“He [Kohli] picked up a few tips, and we chatted about it quite a bit. And vice versa – playing spinners in the middle overs. I watched him bat in the nets for ages, what he would do, where he would hit spinners, how he would rotate them, and I picked up a lot of things from his as well.”

De Villiers highlighted how Kohli had perfected the technique of extending the arms while facing short balls in the last few years.

“I’ve spoken to Virat about it [playing the short balls], extending the arms – you can see how Virat extends his arms with the short ball,” he said. “So if we can really get technical [here], it’s a difficult one for the mind to understand because the quicker the bowler is, the more you think you need to pull in but you actually got to go towards the ball and go and fetch it.

“That’s the tough part to understand and once you click that, the minute you see its shorter, and you try and extend your arms towards the ball, it becomes a lot easier to control it. That’s what Virat got right in the last five-seven years. Really extending it, and you can see he rolls his wrist, trying to keep it down, not giving a chance up in the air on the leg side is vital.”

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