Fans regard AB De Villiers as an unconventional batsman, an innovator having an orthodox set-up and a batting crazy cricketer. He is the Unicorn for his ardent fans. The Unicorn expression came up because of his capacity to dominate both pace and spin bowling equally. For some T20 cricketers around the world, dominating pace and spin is a dream. He blends his quick bat speed with sheer position to unleash the ultimate havoc on spinners and pacers equally.
However, his batting numbers against spin during IPL 2019 plunged down low when we see his career numbers. On the other hand, his numbers against pace bowling remained good. As a result, ABD was reduced to a pace power hitter.
Let us analyze if the playing conditions of UAE can help him regain his Unicorn title.
When we think about the year-wise batting numbers of AB De Villiers against spin since 2016, the 2016 and 2018 seasons stand apart where he was batting in his top form. For him, the IPL 2017 season was weird for various reasons. He had an injury, he needed to leave the competition before the schedule for national duty, and the most important one was the change in nature of the Chinnaswamy track. The batting paradise turned into a slow turner in that season for the installation of the drainage system at the venue. After that, IPL 2019 stands out not to be a good season for him due to his poor records against the spinners.
Troubles against off-spin
Any right-hand batsman might want to elaborate himself against an off-spinner. Yet AB De Villiers‘ record against off-spin in IPL 2019 recommends something other. 40 runs at an average of 13.33 with a strike rate of 125 don’t stand up well for a batsman of his level. Based on the bowlers he faced, we split those numbers and can recognize the explanation for those numbers.
The main cause behind numbers could be the absence of batting time against the spinners since it was his first IPL after retirement.
Issues against tall left-arm spinners
There’s very little to read about ABD‘s statistics against left-arm spinners as he faced just 19 balls and 90% off them against Axar Patel and Krunal Pandya. Both of them have a decent record against AB De Villiers in IPL, particularly dismissing him on four separate events.
The two bowlers are defensive spinners who like to squeeze batsman for room and fire the ball every now and again. This action takes out both ABD‘s preferred shots, inside-out over covers, and sweeps out of the equation.
The decline against wrist-spin
The wrist spin began to rule white-ball cricket since the World Cup 2015. These days, each IPL group has more than one leg-spinner or the Chinaman in their squad. Leave the 2017 season, but apart from that, we have seen AB De Villiers has some great numbers against the wrist spinners in 2016 and 2018. In 2019, we saw him scoring at a lesser pace against those bowling, but at a superior normal. When looking at his details against wrist-turn year-wise, there’s a drop in his scoring rate.
There are several explanations for this. One is Rashid Khan and S Gopal‘s emergence in IPL. These two bowlers had disturbed him a lot in IPL 2018 and 2019. The second reason is his initial season rustiness while confronting the spinners. It is apparent when we look at his dot ball ratio and limit boundary from the 2018 and 2019 IPL season. ABD neglecting to time the ball reliably against spin and playing the sweep somewhat early/late in the IPL 2019 complements the above point.
To close this analysis, AB De Villiers spin game hasn’t worsened as much as his IPL 2019 number proposes to the fans. However, he is surely slow in his batting and as IPL has shifted to UAE, we have to just wait as watch how he proceeds further in the tournament.