ICC Champions Trophy
Amla buoyed by new-look SA
Birmingham - Hashim Amla hailed South Africa's rising stars after a team missing injured strike bowlers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel returned to winning ways at the Champions Trophy.
Man-of-the-match Amla laid the foundation for a 67-run victory over Pakistan in a day/night clash at Edgbaston on Monday.
The opener's typically stylish 81 off 97 balls was the centrepiece of South Africa's 234 for nine made after skipper AB de Villiers won the toss.
GALLERY: Proteas v Pakistan
Amla's excellence is no surprise but what caught the eye was when Chris Morris, called up after Morkel suffered a tournament-ending leg injury in the Proteas' opening loss to India, marked his one-day international debut with a new-ball burst of two wickets for 10 runs in 19 balls.
Left-arm paceman Lonwabo Tsotsobe chipped in with two for 23 and Ryan McLaren, a right-arm seamer like Morris, wrapped up the match with a career-best four for 19 as the Proteas won with five overs to spare.
South Africa arrived at this tournament without injured Test captain and opening batsman Graeme Smith while veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis was omitted for personal reasons.
Yet in beating Pakistan so comprehensively, South Africa have now given themselves a real chance of qualifying for the semi-finals when they face the West Indies in their final Group B match in Cardiff on Friday.
"Not having Dale and Morne in the team, any bowling attack will miss them," said Amla.
"And obviously Jacques and Graeme are not here and their experience is missed.
"But it's water under the bridge for us. We have new guys in the team, new energy, and fortunately a victory like this will boost the confidence of everybody."
Inexperienced spinner Aaron Phangiso also performed creditably in a return of one for 50 from 10 overs.
"I think everybody knew of the skills and their hang of the game, and fortunately today they managed to prove it as such.
"The environment in the team is really conducive for them coming in and expressing themselves. So we pride ourselves on that, and I'm really happy that they did well."
He added: "We didn't have a lot to defend at 230 and we thought it was a par score on this type of wicket.
"Fortunately, Tsotsobe was in front, and he seemed to be at his best. He kept scoring really tight and led from the front."
With a new ball in use at either end, opening on a dry pitch such as the one at Edgbaston was challenging, particularly against an impressive Pakistan pace attack.
But Amla and opening partner Colin Ingram did well to weather the storm in a first-wicket stand of 53.
"It was a tough wicket. Up front, Colin and I kept chatting to each other. At times it felt like when were we going to find the next run but, in hindsight, I think it was probably a vital partnership in the first 10 overs," said Amla.
As for the introduction of two white balls, Amla added: "It's given the bowlers up front a chance, and if you see through that, hopefully you can manage to score some runs. I thought today (Monday) was probably a good example for that."