Australia in South Africa 2013-14 February 24, 2014

Amla wants to harness Port Elizabeth momentum

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It's rare for Hashim Amla to deliver the fighting talk, except with the bat, but South Africa's No. 3 believes his side has the edge heading into the series decider in Cape Town. Although both teams earned comprehensive results over each other, Amla said victory in their most recent tussle means it's advantage South Africa going into the final match.

"Winning the second Test gives us momentum and confidence. Guys got hundreds, and the guys are bowling well," Amla said. "It's probably a better situation going into the final Test having won the second."

Amla was one of the batsmen who reached a century in Port Elizabeth, ending a short dry spell that lasted seven innings without a fifty. In numbers terms it was not much, and JP Duminy went the same amount of time without a half-century to his name, but Amla's methods of dismissal were cause for concern. Amla was getting out cheaply either after being caught in his crease and playing down the wrong line, or fishing outside the offstump.

But those technicalities were not on Amla's mind when he approached the second innings in Port Elizabeth because he was dealing with the discomfort of a dislocated finger. "We managed to numb the pain occasionally. I had it strapped up quite nicely too. There were times in the innings when the painkillers wore off," he said. "Sometimes you go through a few innings when you don't score runs. It's part of the game. It's happened to players in the past, it's happened to everybody. There's no doubt it can happen to an average player like myself. I'm just glad I managed to get some runs and put the team in a really good position to win it."

Although Amla played down his own ability, his captain, Graeme Smith, confirmed the dressing room never doubted Amla at all. "He has been incredible and it's only natural that someone will have dips and up curves in a career. For us, it's about knowing the type of people you want involved in your team and Hashim is one of them," Smith said. "It meant a lot to all of us, to see him respond. No one ever questions his ability. He is a real quality cricketer."

Amla's pedigree, statistically speaking, is now equal to Gary Kirsten, who also scored 21 hundreds for South Africa. Of his countrymen, only Jacques Kallis (45) and Graeme Smith (27) have more but like them, the numbers don't mean as much to Amla as much as the context in which they come up. "I play every game like it's my last. I'm just grateful for those 21 hundreds," he said. "It feels like just the other day I started playing international cricket. The best thing is to score runs in a winning cause."

Orchestrating victories is something Amla is developing a knack of. More than half his 21 hundreds, 11 to be precise, have come in wining causes including his double-hundred at Nagpur in 2010, his triple at The Oval in 2012 and his 196 in Perth later that same year. While all those knocks were special for different reasons, Amla cited the latest one as being particularly special because it formed the backbone of one of South Africa's most courageous comebacks.

"Over the last few years we've had quite a few fightbacks - to win Tests as well as draw - like the one at the Wanderers, and the one in Adelaide. There have been some really memorable Test matches, and this one does go down as one of them because we came out on top," Amla said. "The guys applied themselves late in the evening here, we felt we didn't want to leave it to the last day."

Rain dripped over Port Elizabeth on Monday, not as much as was feared but cricket would have been limited. South Africa responded to that by upping the ante on the fourth afternoon to ensure they take a level-playing field to Cape Town, where the now in-form Amla believes they can become the first South African team since readmission to beat Australia in a series at home. "Newlands has been a happy ground for the Proteas for the last few years," he said. "But the Aussies are a good team. There's a lot riding on the last Test and fortunately we've got a bit of momentum."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Barkas_Lungi on February 27, 2014, 10:16 GMT

    Amla you beauty! You leave us with no option but to respect you even more. I wish there were more Amla's playing cricket.

  • hb1970 on February 26, 2014, 18:09 GMT

    @Chris Kay. I don't believe Amla is captaincy material. I think he's a bit introverted for that. But he's a great asset to the team and Smith is lucky to have him. The power of quiet in a world that can't stop talking. Ha ha ha!

  • disco_bob on February 26, 2014, 11:15 GMT

    @Hareesh Elenthakkal said "...only difference. between. two teams is styen..."

    That was true in the second Test, in the first Test it was MJ big a much larger slice. Guess every single game ever played has a player who is the 'difference'.

    I think the SAffers are now feeling the consequences of the first test annihilation in a 3 Test series. Can you see the problem, it sort of undoes all the gloating but that doesn't stop you anyway, it's simply a matter of pretending the first Test did not happen, and truth be told the way Mitch was all over you like a hot flannel, it almost seemed that way.

  • android_user on February 26, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    @disco_bob. .. we really don't expect any aussie to understand how real humility looks like as it is completely absent from aussie minds and actiond so your comments carry no weight. Prefer a record breaking superstar like Amla who talks by performance and humble actions then a Warner-like who blurts nonsense constantly yet his cricket hasn't earned him any respect yet.

    Note on Amla. Fastest ever to 4000 ODI runs, and 21 centuries in tests, no batsmen has except Bradman has scored this much in so few games. Complete legend in the making

  • android_user on February 26, 2014, 10:46 GMT

    Ozcricketwriter is such a funny man. Your constant predictions and statements like "SA only has 2 good players" are just getting old. And you are right with your option A, SA were caught cold as unfortunately it is in almost every series they play, the 2nd test was back to normal and after the 3rd test please come up with you next set of ridiculous excuses you are almost as bad as the clown you have for an opening batsman

  • P0isonal on February 26, 2014, 3:23 GMT

    Amla the true superstar of the game!! He can perform on every pitch and with every opposition!! I wish my beard grown fast so i can see me like the legend in front of my mirror!!

  • dummy4fb on February 26, 2014, 1:58 GMT

    See how stoic he looked, when all others were in such celebrating mood. Captaincy material, perhaps. SA however is challenged as to if not now then never. And as for who are downplaying SA's status as just another home bully, I'd ask them to check the difference when their favorites play home vis-a-vis abroad. SA lose at home a bit more than some home bullies, but they're winning abroad more than anybody else. Deserving No1.

  • Chris_P on February 25, 2014, 22:21 GMT

    @Greatest_Game I can only add to that as well, I also have found you fair, critical (when deserved) but appreciative of our great game. Like you, I rarely disparage opposition players (their own supporters are more than willing if deserved) & always praise good cricket. Amla is only saying what the current situation demands, I mean did he believe that after the first test when we won? Nope, he said they could bounce bounce back (& they did) so it is all moot until the game starts and ends. And, like you, I particularly enjoy these contests between our countries, btw, I had no problem with your team @ #1 even after the first test as the ranking suggests sustained form over a period of time.

  • Ozcricketwriter on February 25, 2014, 22:16 GMT

    You have two ways of looking at this:

    Option 1 - The first test was an aberration. South Africa were caught on the hop, unexpectedly doing badly at their best test venue, not expecting Doolan and Marsh to do well, and shocked that Johnson was actually as good against them as he was against England. Now that South Africa are used to those 3 players, they can win easily, and will win the third test just as easily.

    Option 2 - Far from an aberration, the first test was the true way of looking at things. The second test, in comparison, was a farce with pitch doctoring galore before the start of the match that radically changed how the pitch performed, and they combined that with a different training regime and different players. There are still only 2 quality in form players for South Africa, and, assuming that they don't stoop so low as to doctor the pitch for the third test, it is going to be very hard for them to win.

    Depends on your perspective really.

  • dummy4fb on February 25, 2014, 22:15 GMT

    hats off great amla....what a humble and great player you are

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