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AB de Villiers recalls when Indian crowds began the 'ABD' chant in 2012

AB de Villiers writes about making sense of the phenomenon of thousands of happy Indians chanting his name, sometimes even when he is playing against India, in a passage from his autobiography.

AB de Villiers recalls when Indian crowds began the ABD chant in 2012

AB de Villiers reacts during an innings for South Africa against India (File Photo/ICC)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 19 Nov 2021 12:22 PM GMT

"I've become half Indian now & I'm proud of that," AB de Villiers said in his retirement message on Friday. Fittingly, his last few matches in professional cricket were in the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) jersey in IPL 2021. ABD, as he was known to vociferous crowds around India, has been the most well-loved overseas cricketer in the country in recent times.

Following is an extract from his autobiography - 'AB - The Autobiography' - where the South African legend speaks about the love he received from India, how it inspired him and when he remembers he first heard the chants of 'ABD' rend the IPL sky.


It is difficult for me to understand how someone from a relatively small town in rural South Africa can be so fortunate and so favoured that when he walks out to bat, or simply takes guard, in almost any cricket ground in India, he can be greeted by tens of thousands of happy people chanting his initials.
A-B-D! A-B-D! A-B-D!
I am not arrogant, big-headed or self-important. I am simply grateful to God for giving me the talent to entertain people, for giving me the skill to hit a cricket ball in a way that excites people. I have wondered about these events and arrived at the conclusion that it remains His talent and His skill effectively being manifested through me. I genuinely feel so blessed to be following the path He has chosen for me.
As far as I can recall, the chant started in 2012, during the fifth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) were chasing 182 to beat Deccan Chargers at the Chinnaswamy Stadium and I walked out to bat when we were struggling at 106 for three, with six overs and one ball left. Our form had been inconsistent and we needed a win to stay alive in the competition, but the in-form Chargers appeared in control.
With 39 runs needed from 18 balls, we decided our best option was to take risks, to attack and see what happens. Dale Steyn, my long-standing friend and teammate, was preparing to bowl the 18th over …
I pull the first ball for a low-trajectory six over mid-wicket. The second ball is a perfect yorker in the blockhole, which I manage to dig into the leg side for two. The crowd is starting to chant. I listen. It is my second season in Bangalore, and our outstanding supporters very often chant R-C-B! R-CB! R-C-B!
This is different. It sounds like different lyrics set to the same tune.
A-B-D! A-B-D! A-B-D!
I focus on Dale, who is running in again. The third ball is slower. I swing hard and hit the ball just hard enough to reach the boundary. The grandstands turn into a swirling sea of red flags again and the chanting resumes, louder.
A-B-D! A-B-D! A-B-D!
The fourth delivery is full and straight, pitched on middle-and-leg. I step away to the leg side to make room, to free my hands and drive the ball over extra cover and into the crowd. A slogan flashes on the giant screen. YOU CAN'T PUT FIELDERS THERE, it reads. I look around. The atmosphere is amazing.
Dale races in and bowls the fifth ball outside off-stump. I premeditate, step to the off side, crouch down on one knee and then, swivelling, manage to paddle the ball to the boundary behind square leg. A single to third man off the sixth ball means we have taken 23 from the over.
A-B-D! A-B-D! A-B-D!
Still on strike at the start of the 19th over, I take two steps down the wicket and drive the first ball to the extra cover boundary. The second ball is driven on the up past the bowler for four and the third ball is pulled into the crowd for six. Everything is going our way, and 37 runs have come from nine balls.
Syed Mohammad, my partner at the crease, whips the next ball for four and, in what seems the blink of an eye, a match we had looked like losing is won with more than an over to spare. Our teammates run on to the field to celebrate and Virat Kohli, our captain, is the first person to reach me and hug me.
THAT ONLY HAPPENS IN THE MOVIES, screams another slogan on the giant screen.
I feel exhilarated, and join the post-match line to greet the opposition. Dale smiles as he shakes my hand. We've come a long way from our first class debuts on the same day at SuperSport Park to this electric night in Bangalore, and he remains a great fast bowler, a great competitor and a great sportsman.
Not for the first time – and not for the last – I had been inspired by India, this great country that has provided me with so many opportunities and has become so important in my career. It is the largest democracy in the world and the seventh-largest economy in the world. It is a vast and beautiful nation of more than 1.2 billion people, most of whom love cricket. And it is hard to believe that, not long ago, it was a country that many international cricketers used to dread; they would arrive on tour and complain about the hotels, the food, the training facilities and the transport, and could hardly wait to fly home.
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