Cape Town - Proteas batsman, AB de Villiers, is set to become the seventh South African to play 100 Test matches when he takes the field in the second Test against India at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Saturday.
De Villiers returned to the summit of the ICC Test batting rankings earlier this week, and joins an elite list of batsmen featuring Graham Gooch, Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting to name a few, who played their 100th Test as the No.1 ranked batsman.
The 31-year-old addressed the media in Bangalore on Thursday afternoon and spoke modestly of his illustrious 10-year Test career.
“I’m all about performances for the team and special victories,” he said when asked of his most special Test matches.
“My mind goes to lots of series victories away from home. A couple of times in England, a couple of times in Australia, we have had a few good Test series here (India) even though we didn’t win there were a few matches where we played higher than expectations.
"There are a lot of Test matches that come to mind, the Sri Lanka Test series win was also special, most of the away victories. It’s special to play in front of your home crowd but people don’t expect you to do well away from home, we have had a good record away from home.
“It says a lot about the character and resilience we have in the side, not only as a cricket team but as a nation as well. It makes me really proud to have been part of the best cricket team touring all over and winning games of cricket. We are up against it here in India and it’s another great challenge for us, it will be another good story to come back from this.”
De Villiers was due to play his 100th Test match against Bangladesh in Dhaka, but missed the two-match series to be at the birth of his first born son after playing 98 consecutive Test matches since debut, a world record. He often describes the M Chinnaswamy stadium as a home away from home, so it is a fitting coincidence that he celebrates an occasion he describes as ‘any other Test match’ in Bangalore.
"I’ve never been too sentimental about those things, I don’t care where I play my 100th,” South Africa’s third-highest run-scorer behind Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith said.
“I didn’t mind where I played my 50th and I won’t mind where I play any of my Test matches. Representing my country is a great honour but the fact that it worked out for me to play in Bangalore is really special for me. I love coming here during the IPL (Indian Premier League) but being here with South Africa for my 100th Test is special.”
Rain has hampered the groundsman’s preparation of the pitch, but the Proteas will have some ‘local’ insight to tap into as they prepare to level the series.
“We are expecting turning wickets, whether we go to Bangalore or Delhi, we are prepared for that,” he said. “We have worked really hard at our game and I feel we have covered all of the bases. I don’t think we played poorly in the first Test, there were a few hours where we didn’t play good cricket, it has nothing to do with our skills and potential to take India on in their own conditions. I’m prepared for any kind of Bangalore wicket come this Test match.
“South African teams are known for bouncing back and their resilience, I’m expecting the boys to be hungry for the second Test match.”