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AB de Villiers back to keeping in RCB nets; Jonty Rhodes overcomes quarantine ‘hurdle’

The postponement of the 2020 T20 World Cup may have thrown AB de Villiers’ potential South Africa comeback off the rails for the moment, but he’s happy to be back playing cricket in some form after a strict five-month lockdown in South Africa because of Covid-19.

In this period, the only cricket he played was at the experimental 3TC competition in Centurion, where he slammed a 21-ball half-century to lead his side, the Eagles, to victory. Last week, de Villiers linked up with the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad for IPL 2020 in the UAE, and had his first hit on Saturday.

“It was good, very enjoyable to be out there,” de Villiers told RCB TV. “It was night time, the lights were a bit blurry, the wicket was a bit sticky so it was a great challenge and actually if I could have it my way, this would’ve been the way I would’ve had it after a long time. So, I really kept my basics in place. I had to watch the ball carefully and I hit some nice shots towards the end, which was enjoyable.”

De Villiers took part in a full session that included warm-up drills, a game of football, a batting session and wicketkeeping drills. Fellow South African Chris Morris, their latest recruit at the auction, was among those who bowled at de Villiers, amid a battery of net bowlers and throwdown specialists. A day earlier, Dale Steyn was part of the first batch of players to train.

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That de Villiers trained with the gloves was noteworthy, considering he hasn’t kept in the IPL since 2013. However, he returned to keep wickets during his stint with Brisbane Heat at the Big Bash League earlier this year. While Royal Challengers haven’t officially confirmed if they are thinking on those lines – they have Parthiv Patel and Australia’s Josh Phillipe as specialist wicketkeepers – it’s something the franchise feels could be a “topic for discussion.”

“We have had a lot of discussions about the make-up of our team. I think it is hard to say anything now, we have three weeks of the camp to get through and see how things turn out physically. Obviously, AB has kept wickets before and that will be a topic for discussion,” head coach Simon Katich said during a media interaction last week. “He has a huge role to play for RCB, given his level and performances over the years for us and South Africa. We know he’s world-class. He will be revitalised with the break. We’ll play it by the ear, let’s see what happens.”

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