SA in West Indies
Amla ton leads SA to victory
Dominica - Hashim Amla achieved another personal milestone in his flourishing international career when he anchored the Proteas' ODI squad to a seven-wicket victory over the West Indies at the Windsor Park Stadium, Dominica, on Sunday.
It was a result that kept the Proteas on target for a 5-0 series clean sweep. They now lead 4-0 with the final match to be played at Trinidad's Queen's Park Oval on Thursday (15:30 SA time start).
Amla made 129 off 115 balls (9x4-2x6) for his third ODI century and his second of this series to collect his third man of the match award on this tour.
What made the innings personally significant for Amla was this was the first time he had been able to set up a Proteas' chase of such a formidable nature as the 304 runs required on this occasion rather than a target through batting first.
"I did get an unbeaten 80 when we chased down 223 to clinch the series against Australia at Adelaide in 2009," he commented, "but that was a far less demanding target than today's one, particularly when the conditions of extreme heat are taken into account, and I have been hoping for the opportunity to do this sort of job for some time.
"I felt it was important to take my career forward to a new level." But for heat exhaustion which undoubtedly was a major contribution to his dismissal and caused him to be put on a drip in the changing room afterwards Amla would probably have batted through the innings and thus achieved another milestone of spending the entire 100 overs on the field.
In the end he fell just 11 runs short of his career best 140 against Bangladesh at Benoni in 2008 and this performance will certainly lift him into the top ten on the ICC Reliance Mobile ODI batting ratings for the first time in his career. He was ranked 12th after the second match of this series.
With typical modesty Amla gave more credit to AB de Villiers for getting him through a difficult period of exhaustion and dehydration than in taking credit for a magnificent achievement.
"AB is a magnificent cricketer in many ways. He realised how tired I was getting and he said he would back me to go for my shots by making sure that he stayed in to maintain the momentum of the innings.
"He said: 'go for your shots but just play good cricket shots and don't worry about running twos. We will just settle for singles. I will keep up my end in case you get out'."
So it turned out to be as De Villiers and JP Duminy batted the game out although in the words of captain Graeme Smith both players would have preferred a less conservative finish that saw the game go down to the very last ball.
Smith said that he had been pleased with the performance of his bowlers and fielders for the first 34 overs of the West Indies innings up to the second drinks break but felt that the weather had taken its toll thereafter.
"There is no doubt two games in three days in such testing conditions takes a lot out of the players but it is always nice to win and still have things to work on and improve.
"Our confidence levels are improving all the time and a 5-0 series win will be the best way we can come back after we were all so badly affected by our poor showing at the ICC World Twenty20."
Dale Steyn was rested for Sunday's match which also marked De Villiers' 100th ODI appearance and it is possible that there will be more squad rotation on Thursday.