Wherever AB de Villiers goes, he’s one of the biggest stars, if not the biggest, and the Pakistan Super League is no different.
Yet the South African hasn’t quite hit the ground running in PSL 2019, scoring just 41 runs in three games for Lahore Qalandars across the opening weekend of the tournament, with a top score of 24. De Villiers’ tally of sixes, one, is the same as the number of single-digit dismissals he has so far this season.
It started with a promising cameo, that innings of 24 in the opener coming off of 17 balls and looking like a sign of things to come. But he was dismissed cheaply in Lahore’s next game, against Karachi Kings, and an innings of 14 off 8 against Peshawar Zalmi flattered to deceive – especially since the team were bowled out for 78. The fans who showed up for the opening weekend must be terribly disappointed.
But it’s not just the batting that is a concern for De Villiers, who celebrated his 35th birthday on Sunday. The South African was also thrust into the captaincy role after Mohammed Hafeez suffered an injury in the game against Karachi, and now has that disastrous loss against Peshawar on his record. There was little he could do with his fellow batsmen failing so spectacularly and leaving their bowlers – and captain ABD – with such a small target to defend, but the loss will have stung nonetheless.
There are some positives to take though; he looked fluent in the two innings where he did get going, even if he couldn’t stay at the crease long enough to deliver a De Villiers special. And it was his decision to trust young pacer Haris Rauf against Karachi at the death, when Lahore were defending just 139. Rauf came up with the goods, picking up four wickets in nine balls to kill off Karachi’s hopes.