Cape Town – South Africa’s two most senior batsmen, captain Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, will each be in the hunt for prestigious national records when the Proteas play their four-Test series in India.
De Villiers currently boasts 7,606 runs in the format at an average of 52.09 (98 Tests), and needs a further 394 runs to hit the 8,000-mark.
It is a fairly tough ask, but if he were to get those runs in India -- where the Proteas will be playing their longest series on that turf yet and in conditions traditionally favourable to long stays at the crease -- he will better or perhaps equal Jacques Kallis’s landmark as fastest South African to 8,000.
Kallis reached the figure in 170 innings (101st Test) and De Villiers has presently played eight fewer innings – that is obviously also the tally for most knocks he could possibly play in the Indian series.
So if he compiles those 394 runs in the series (the maximum eight innings if he gets them would require an average of 49.25, and De Villiers already averages 53.14 in India) he is very likely to be holder of the new South African milestone.
Kallis lies 14th on the planet for stealth -- the quickest batsman of all time to 8,000 runs was recently-retired Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara; he needed only 152 innings and 91 Tests.
As for Amla, he is on 6,770 Test runs (average 52.48, 84 Tests) and is 230 runs short of reaching a personal 7,000.
Having played 142 knocks, if he reaches the figure at some point within his next six turns at the crease – highly likely to come in India – he will topple Graeme Smith, predecessor as the Proteas’ Test leader, as fastest South African to reach that number in innings terms.
Smith got there in 148 innings and in his 85th Test, and stands at 15th in the world pecking order: the supremo is England legend Wally Hammond, who got to 7,000 in 131 knocks and in his 80th Test.
Amla has a tremendous track record in India, having bludgeoned 823 runs in only six Tests there at a giddy average of 102.87.
If he used the next six opportunities with the blade to knock off his 230 runs needed for 7,000, the bearded dominator would only need to average around 38 to get there.
The last time he tackled India on their terrain, Amla registered successive series scores of 253 not out at Nagpur and 114 and 123 not out at Kolkata, to be comfortably named player of the mere two-Test series (split 1-1).
Before the agreeably lengthy Test combat begins this year, the Proteas first tackle India in three Twenty20 internationals and five ODIs.
They leave for the Subcontinent a little later this month.
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