IPL 2021: De Villiers, Dhawan and the art of risk-free T20 batting

Ramiz Raja/Dubai
Filed on April 11, 2021
AB de Villiers of Royal Challengers Bangalore plays a shot during the IPL match against Mumbai Indians. — ANI

Risk takers can at times self-destruct, but they make watching the game a thrilling experience

Food for thought! What makes a great IPL batsman? Is it an opener who sets out the batting stall, or a middle-order batsman who nourishes a start and hands the baton to a finisher who delivers the coup de grace with an epic assault?

Well, on the day, all three could be finishers, all could be match-winners. You might put them in two categories -- risk-taking winners vs risk-free winners.

Risk takers can at times self-destruct, but they make watching the game a thrilling experience. Risk avoiders are rare in this T20 mad house. Not that they don’t take risks. They play a rehearsed hand which is based on calculation and precision.

AB de Villiers’ 48 off 27 balls against the Mumbai Indians was a great innings without seeking risks. Not showing any rust from quarantine, he was switched on, showing instead a lot of full blade to the ball, avoiding fancy angles.

To go at a strike rate of 178 and still look so safe is what makes him so special. And he keeps knocking off such innings time and again. It was instinctive batting at its best. His calm head provides him with clarity to overcome tough moments and map out a winning charge. Compared to switch hitter Glenn Maxwell, a match-winner on the day, but who favours boom-or-bust style, ABD is a safe bet, knowing his range and pulling off batting stunts that he has power over.

Shikhar Dhawan, as an opener for the Delhi Capitals, produced a risk-free 85 off 54 balls against the Chennai Super Kings. And Dhawan was three in one for his team -- the platform layer, innings builder and a finisher.

Over the years, the left-hander has been wrecking oppositions with a risk-free brand of batting. No tough ask or situation is big enough to invade his tranquility. In the zone to deal with targets as big as Eiffel Tower, he could actually be an excellent tutor to Prithvi Shaw, his young partner, who blazes the attacks with high risk options.

Talent has to marry performance and aggression has to find borders. ABD and Dhawan are excellent examples of winners with parameters.

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