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Amla To The Fore As SA Do it their way

March 3rd, 2015 | by admin
Amla To The Fore As SA Do it their way
South Africa

Chris Gayle “will probably score 300 in an ODI pretty soon”, according to Hashim Amla, who will content himself with the rest of the records even though he does not count himself among the game’s geniuses yet.

“I’d love to score runs every game but I don’t think that’s possible … unless you are Don Bradman or AB de Villiers,” Amla joked. But his 20th century in his 111th ODI, which made him the fastestplayer to notch up that number of hundreds, defies all the deflective talk.

Amla believes this success, and the many others, could have gone to anyone else and that keeps him humble. He was on 10 when he pulled a ball straight to short midwicket, and his innings could have ended. “When I hit that ball, I thought it was on the ground but I hit it well and that made it more difficult to catch,” Amla said.

It also made it more difficult for Ireland to regroup and so presented South Africa with an opportunity to seize the advantage. “If you read the situation well and set up nicely for whenever you feel is the right time to take momentum, you will get 300 more often than not,” de Villiers, South Africa’s captain, said.

When Amla was dropped, Ireland were in the driving seat. They had the early wicket of Quinton de Kock, who has yet to find form in this tournament, and they could have had another. South Africa’s scoring rate was higher than it had been previous matches but that did not equate to control.

That only came later, when Amla and Faf du Plessis punished a bowling attack that lacked penetration and provided a glimpse into South Africa’s batting pattern. AB de Villiers calls it “batting our way” and he explained it is about being astute.

“You can’t play positive cricket for 50 overs and go hard at everything you get. You gave to read the situation well,” de Villiers said. “We do it our way. We’re not trying to follow someone else’s strategies. We stick to our gameplans.”

That is actually the way most teams would want to bat: grind upfront, lay a solid base and then allow the batsmen who remain to break free. But only teams who get the first two things right can move on to the third and they can only move on to it successfully if they know how to be flexible. “It’s about the flow of the game. We had a partnership going and we were settled in the partnerships,” Amla said. “There is no set formula on when you decide to go.”

Usually for South Africa, when the base is laid and one of their set batsmen “goes”, so does the other and then the ones who follow as well. In that way the batsmen “feed off each other,” de Villiers said. “Everyone gets energy and confidence from watching each other bat.”

At Manuka Oval against Ireland, the men who provided the food were Amla and du Plessis. What was different about the way they approached the innings this time was that they focused on power-hitting, something which has seldom been a prominent feature in a gameplan which has been moulded on subtlety and soft touches.

Maybe that is what influenced Amla’s choice of his favourite shot. “There was the nick to third man for four which I quite enjoyed,” Amla said, tongue firmly in cheek. “It’s the least effort for the most reward.”

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