On fire: AB de Villiers celebrates reaching his century in Paarl. His 176 was a career best in ODIs and was achieved after an absence since June. Picture: CHRIS RICCO/BACKPAGEPIX
On fire: AB de Villiers celebrates reaching his century in Paarl. His 176 was a career best in ODIs and was achieved after an absence since June. Picture: CHRIS RICCO/BACKPAGEPIX

AB de Villiers scored 10 fewer runs than Quinton de Kock’s career-best 59 for SA in the first Twenty20 against Bangladesh in Bloemfontein on Thursday‚ but De Villiers probably had the greater influence on his team’s performance.

He faced 27 balls for his 49‚ which brimmed with innovative strokeplay and audacious footwork along with its eight fours. More importantly‚ he had fun.

"I enjoy what I do‚" De Villiers told reporters in Bloemfontein. "I love playing cricket‚ and I love contributing to the team and scoring runs and having impactful innings."

Thursday’s game was De Villiers’s fourth for SA since he withdrew from the Test series in England in July and August, and the home series in that format against Bangladesh that started in September.

But in those four matches since his return he has improved his career-best one-day score to 176 and delivered Thursday’s cracking cameo.

The break from the team environment‚ he seemed to suggest‚ had done him good.

"I love working by myself and I had the opportunity to do that‚" De Villiers said. "I did a lot of gym work to get fit again and then I did a lot of work at the University of Pretoria with [former Titans and New Zealand wicketkeeper] Kruger van Wyk — a lot of throws‚ a lot of spin.

"I know my game pretty well and I needed to work on a few technical areas‚ which I did; just a trigger thing and a timing thing‚ which I got right. I’m moving really well at the crease now‚ so I think the off-season paid off."

And how. De Villiers’s latest innings helped SA total 195/4 and curb Bangladesh’s reply to 175/9.

That sets up the home side for a clean sweep of the Bangladeshis in the second T20 in Potchefstroom on Sunday‚ when the tour will conclude.

Thursday’s game was Bangladesh’s most competitive performance so far on what has been a woeful tour‚ what with SA also winning both Tests and all three one-day internationals.

"If you want to talk about negative things there are a lot of things to talk about‚" opening batsman Soumya Sarkar‚ whose 47 was the visitors’ top score in Bloemfontein‚ said in reaction to reporters’ inevitable questions about another failure.

"If the bowlers did well and we played one less you would have said we should have picked one extra bowler. Now that the batsmen couldn’t do the job you are saying we needed one more batsman.

"There’s no end to these things; you think that we had one batsman less but our captain and team management thought this was the best way to go about things."

You might wonder what he would say if SA win again in Potchefstroom on Sunday.

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