Amla’s amazing appetite

2010-10-18 08:36
Hashim Amla (File)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Potchefstroom – Already feasting so heartily in the Test arena, Hashim Amla has clearly turned his attention to being a truly dominating presence in one-day internationals as well.

His back-to-back centuries in the first two MTN ODIs against Zimbabwe – first at Bloemfontein on Friday and now here on Sunday – played a major role in South Africa killing off the rubber efficiently, especially as a batting outfit, with one to play in Benoni.

In doing so, they also climbed back to No 2 on the ICC rankings behind Australia.

Amla registered exactly the same total at Senwes Park as he had at the Outsurance Oval – 110 – and this time his co-centurion was old hand AB de Villiers after Colin Ingram had aided the cause with a debut ton in the opening encounter.

Such was South Africa’s supremacy on Sunday that Ingram didn’t even take to the crease as De Villiers, in need of some good “middle” time after his injury layoff, came in at No 3 and looked as if he’d never been away – his 72-ball knock of 101 not out was his eighth century in ODIs.

Amla was a tad more conservative in the way he compiled his runs, but the good thing about him is that he plays with such unflustered economy and discipline while still maintaining a very rosy strike-rate and rotating strike shrewdly.

He is an under-estimated athlete, into the bargain, for the manner in which he runs between the wickets, with both his judgement and stealth consistently excellent, even if he was run out in Bloemfontein.

This was the first time the Dolphins man had recorded successive centuries in ODIs, although he has come close at least twice before: innings of 102 and 92 against West Indies at North Sound and also his 80 not out and then 97 against Australia at Adelaide and Perth spring to mind.

De Villiers, of course, can boast the feat of three ODI centuries on the trot (two against India and one against West Indies) which helped his cause in being named ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year recently.

Before his innings on Sunday, Cricinfo had pointed out that Amla’s average of 56.96 was the second highest among all batsmen who have played a minimum of 20 ODI knocks.

Following Sunday’s score in his 31st one-day international and 30th innings, that average has climbed to 58.92.

He is certainly in the form of his life in ODIs, his last eight knocks having seen him amass 709 runs at an eye-opening average of just over 88, including four three-figure efforts.

Ironically another South African-born player is the lone ranger ahead of him on that list highlighted by Cricinfo: Ryan ten Doeschate of second-tier nation the Netherlands, who averages 68.55 although most of his runs come against the likes of Bermuda, Scotland and Kenya.

Just behind second-placed Amla are two Australians, Michael Bevan (53.58) and Mike Hussey (51.65) and then India’s MS Dhoni (50.73).

Jacques Kallis is the closest Proteas colleague to Amla, with an average of 45.72.

Amla now moves on to Willowmoore Park for Friday’s last game: it is the scene, ominously for the hard-pressed “Zim” attack, of his highest ODI innings of 140 against Bangladesh two seasons ago.

Say all you like about the limitations of Zimbabwe, but a Proteas top four in the lead-up to and then at the 2011 World Cup is highly unlikely to differ from Smith, Amla, Kallis and De Villiers – stability personified, really.

Current drawbacks lie in other areas like the fielding, which remains well too scratchy at present, and seam bowling department while Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are laid low and some less experienced customers have found the going tough even against the Zimbabweans thus far.

But at least Rusty Theron stood up to be counted in just his second ODI on Sunday, his “five-for” serving notice of his own World Cup aspirations as a mix-it-up factor and death-duty candidate.

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