Pakistan v SA

Amla fights brave battle

2013-10-14 15:30
Hashim Amla (AFP Photo)
Abu Dhabi - Hashim Amla became the fourth South African batsman to score 20 Test match centuries as he played almost a lone hand to keep the Proteas in contention on the opening day of the two-match series against Pakistan at Abu Dhabi on Monday.


GALLERY: Amazing Amla!

By the close of play, after Graeme Smith had won the toss, the Proteas had battled their way to 245/8 in their statutory 90 overs.

The key fact is that Amla (118 off 250  balls, 13 fours) is still at the crease and it will be up to Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel, playing in his 50th Test match, to give South Africa’s batting champion as much support as possible.

It will be difficult to assess the value of the Proteas’ total until after Pakistan have made their reply as the spinners are already starting to gain some turn and bounce and conditions are certainly not going to improve over the remaining four days.

A total in the region of 300 could still prove to be formidable.

The Proteas’ day could be divided into three sections with the first three wickets falling for 44 runs; then there was the revival sparked by Amla who added 61 for the fourth wicket with AB de Villiers and 95 for the fifth with JP Duminy (57 off 94 balls, 6 fours and a six); and then the dismissal of Duminy sparking another mini-collapse that saw four wickets fall for 23 runs.

Both De Villiers and Duminy will have been extremely disappointed by their dismissals.

The former was run out when he presumably thought the ball had gone dead and the Pakistani fielders and, more importantly, the umpires were of the opinion that it hadn’t.

His unnecessary run out was a critical blow.

Duminy, in spite of not having batted in a Test match for more than a year, looked in the form of his life.

He hit the ball off the middle of his bat with unerring regularity until he attempted a sweep shot that had been particularly productive for him and was caught off the top edge.

This was the left-hander’s debut against Pakistan and he passed an important test in showing his ability not only to cope with quality spin bowling but to dominate it.

His last three first innings in Test cricket have been 46 not out, 61 (both against England) and now 57 against Pakistan which confirms that he is getting back to the exciting form he showed in Australia when his Test career started in 2008.

But the day belonged to Amla.

His batting average for the current calendar year is in excess of 96 while his career average has now moved above 53. He has scored six centuries in his last 12 Tests (19 innings).

As usual he scored strongly square on both sides of the wicket and did not hesitate to go over the top with some spectacular lofted cover drives.

Amla raised his half century off 95 balls shortly after lunch with a pulled boundary to square leg off fast bowler Junaid Khan and brought up his 20th Test century off 201 balls by driving Babar to long off in the last session.

"We would definitely be taking 245-3 or 4 at the end of the day, (but) stats show we tend to lose wickets up front and at the end of day's play, unfortunately we fell to that," Duminy said.

"All we can do is to make sure we come tomorrow with a positive frame of mind and try to get as many runs as we can."

"Just to see the power of concentration he (Amla) has, it's phenomenal," said Duminy after the day's play.

"The key now is for him to try and push on for us."

Ironically, considering the threat he poses, Saeed Ajmal had to wait until the fall of the eighth wicket to claim his first scalp but he was always there or there about and was always maintaining pressure at the one end.

His spin partner, Zulfiqar Babar, had a happy debut, taking three wickets, while the two seamers, Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan, always commanded respect and were responsible for the three early breakthroughs.

"We've got quality spinners," Irfan said.

"Although it's not turning, our spinners are getting some turn out of it and hopefully we will get more in the second innings."


Khurram Manzoor, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul Haq (captain), Adnan Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Asad Shafiq, Shan Masood

South Africa:

Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn

Umpires: Rod Tucker (AUS) and Paul Reiffel (AUS)

Third Umpire: Ian Gould (ENG)

Match referee: David Boon (AUS)

Read more on:    pakistan  |  proteas  |  sa v pakistan  |  hashim amla  |  cricket


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