De Villiers back to his best

De Villiers back to his best

Protean relishing his return to Test cricket

De Villiers back to his best

Johannesburg: AB de Villiers is playing Tests again, and the game of cricket is richer for it.

The right-hander, who had taken a sabbatical from the longer format to conserve himself for ODIs with the 2019 World Cup in mind, returned to Tests with the first four-day Test ever against Zimbabwe late last month. In the absence of regular skipper Faf du Plessis, de Villiers led the Proteas to victory.

Against India, he has played two gems of innings in the first two Tests to help South Africa stay on top. If his 65 in the first innings of first Test helped the hosts recover from 12/3, in the second innings of the Centurion Test he slammed a crucial 80 to set India a big target.

"I feel like I am in the best form of my life right now," said de Villiers here on Thursday during the launch of Pink Day. "I am never guaranteed results, never guaranteed five hundreds in a row, I could get five ducks in a row but I am happy where I am at. And I am playing well and I am doing my preparation well and I am meeting the ball well. It's just up to the day to take care of itself. I feel at the best phase of my life right now," he offered.

Reflecting on the two important innings, which perhaps were as important as any match-winning spells by home bowlers, against India, de Villiers said he was enjoying the "ultimate challenge."

"Yeah, Test cricket is the ultimate challenge, it was very enjoyable to be a part of a really important and good series win. I think it was a great team effort from everyone, from the fielding to the bowlers with big pressure moments with the bat in hand, just an all-round good team performance. I am obviously enjoying my cricket and loving it out there with the boys. And it has been a great couple of Test matches," he remarked.

The Pretoria-born batsman pulled off an acrobatic catch at fine-leg lunging forward to dismiss Rohit Sharma after having played a big part in Cheteshwar Pujara's run-out. The 33-year-old said physically he felt like how he did in 2004 when he made his debut.

"It feels like my debut back in 2004 when I started as an opening batsman then a keeper at No 7 and back to opening, and up and down," he pointed out. "It's funny with my comeback now, similar to back in the day. But it has been very enjoyable, I feel very fresh, and I have said it on numerous occasions in the last few months that I just feel like just getting out there and playing, and that's what a good break does to you. I am feeling in a good space and the energy is good and my body is feeling right at the moment. I do have niggles but that is part of Test cricket. You never get up feeling a hundred percent. The back is still there, the ankles and knees, everything is hurting at times but to be playing the ultimate form of the game again it has been a great challenge."

De Villiers richly complimented the Indian quicks for the way they have surprised the South African batsmen with pace and skills.

"I can't remember what happened, what happened in 2015, oh we won the ODI series, yeah," he said in jest when asked if South Africa are eying a 3-0 sweep following their defeat by similar margin in India in 2015. "It would be great, India have really impressed me and surprised us in terms of the bowling department so they have showed a lot more skill and definitely there is a lot more pace than we expected. So, we know we are going to have to be watchful in that last Test -- they will come out fighting and wanting to finish well in the Test series and wanting to take that confidence into the ODIs but obviously we would love to beat them 3-0. But you are never guaranteed of a result. We know we are going to have to dig deep again and make sure that like in the last two Tests, we adapt to the conditions and put in our best type of cricket in the conditions."

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