Brilliant innings by Amla in South Africa's ODI win
by Andy Jalil

Ground:The Rose Bowl, Southampton
Scorecard:England v South Africa
Event:South Africa in England 2012

DateLine: 29th August 2012


Andy Jalil - Cricket Writer and Commentator
Andy Jalil reporting from Southampton Pakistan Cricket


England v South Africa, 2nd ODI


By courtesy of NatWest.


South Africa's 80-run win in the second One-Day International (ODI) in which Hashim Amla, with a superlative 150 from just 124 balls played the major role, has been overshadowed by the announcement of the retirement of the England Test captain Andrew Strauss. Aged 35, he is one of five England players to have played 100 Tests for his country, leading the side in 50 of them he has scored 7,037 Test runs including 121 Test centuries. He said: "It has clearly been a tough decision to make, but I believe that it is both in the best interests of the England cricket team and myself to step down at this stage."


Since claiming the top position in world Test ranking a year ago, England's record has been poor. They have lost six of their last eleven Tests and Strauss' own form too has suffered. In the Test series against South Africa concluded last week his aggregate in six innings was just 107. The England captaincy has now been taken over by 27-year-old Alastair Cook, the current ODI captain, who has played 83 Tests and has 6,555 Test runs with 20 centuries.


With their defeat to South Africa in the second ODI, the heaviest in an ODI at home since they lost to West Indies by 93 runs in 2007, England also lost their No.1 ODI ranking. But this could be temporary as a win in the third match on Friday could restore them back to the top spot. Set a target of 288 to win, England were rocked back on their heels from the second ball when Cook was bowled playing outside the line of a ball from Lonwabo Tsetsobe.


Jonathan Trott, fell to a brilliant catch by Dean Elgar. Having misjudged at first, Elgar managed to run back, taking the catch over his shoulder and clinging on to the ball with his finger tips. Trott with 23 put on 64 with Ian Bell, the highest partnership of the innings. Bell was in fine form with his 45 from 41 balls but Robin Peterson struck twice in eight balls as be beat Bell with his off spin and then had Ravi Bopara held at extra cover for 16.


Having been reduced to 90 for four England had a major task to recover. The middle order had much to do and England's hopes rested on Eoin Morgan, who on his day a superb batsman in a situation such as this. But with him managing only 27 from 48 balls and Craig Kieswetter scoring 20 at a run a ball and both departing rapidly there was not much else to come.


Samit Patel did, however, entertain with 45 from 51 balls which included two towering sixes and three fours, becoming the joint top scorer before he was last out on the total of 207. Prior to his dismissal Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann had both gone without scoring.


Earlier, with his masterful innings Amla had become the fastest player to reach three thousand runs in ODI cricket. It was a magnificent innings during which he totally dominated the play displaying great control and playing the most attractive strokes to entertain a capacity crowd as he guided his side to a most impressive total of 287 for five.


South Africa, brimming with confidence after clinching the Test series, got off to a brisk start. Having decided to make first use of a slightly grassy pitch, Graeme Smith and Amla seemed to have carried their excellent form from the Tests into the shorter form of the game. They scored at the rate of just about five an over in the first ten overs, the 50 coming from 62 balls and remarkably 36 of those runs came in four overs with Smith going for the big shots.


Smith hit five boundaries in successive overs, two off Steve Finn, chipped to mid-wicket and then gratefully whipped a full toss to mid-on. He was even more severe on Bresnan taking three boundaries in his first over. The last of those fours took him to 32 and he then progressed to 52 in singles mainly.


On 89, England got the breakthrough with Smith going down the pitch to pull Bresnan and top edging for the wicket-keeper. His 52 had come from 76 balls and with such a solid opening stand South Africa had the platform to continue building a big innings. Confusion over a quick single between Amla and JP Duminy saw the latter run out just after Amla had reached his nineteenth ODI half century from 62 balls. On 165 the tourists lost the third wicket and after a stand of 65 from just 60 balls with Amla, AB de Villiers fell of 28.


Meanwhile Amla's lofted drive to mid-off for four off Bresnan took him to 91 but on 92 he was dropped by the wicketkeeper. Unperturbed, Amla went on to reach his tenth ODI century from just 96 balls and celebrated it by pulling the next ball from Patel for his eleventh boundary. He went on his merry way hitting two consecutive boundaries off Bresnan which took him to 138.


Amla's third half century partnership of the innings was with Faf du Plessis with the senior partner scoring with increasing ease as they added 55 in just 36 balls. The last of his sixteen fours was an amazing delicate late cut off Finn which clearly showed the batsman's class and the control with which he batted throughout his innings going past his previous highest score of 140 in ODI. With just two balls remaining he attempted to cut Finn and top edged it to be held at deep gully.

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)


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