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February 19, 2013
Hashim Amla has paid tribute to Pakistan's spirited performance in the second Test at Newlands, saying the team had pushed South Africa "to our limits in certain respects".
"We were under pressure in our first innings, and then had to chase180 in the second," he said. "[It] was never going to be an easy total."
Pakistan scored 338 in the first innings, with centuries from Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq. South Africa could have dismissed them for less than 300, when they were 268 for 8, but a 74-run stand for the ninth wicket between Tanvir Ahmed and Saeed Ajmal took Pakistan to a competitive total.
After South Africa posted 326 in their first innings, Pakistan had a chance at victory, provided they could put together another substantial total. In the end they were dismissed for 169, leaving South Africa 182 to chase.
Amla believed Robin Peterson's 84 in the first innings helped close the gap on Pakistan, and ultimately proved the difference. "We all know the kind of work Robbie puts in behind the scenes, so it was wonderful to watch him oozing with confidence while he was batting," he said. "He also made a significant contribution with the ball and has become a recognised player in his own right."
Saeed Ajmal, who picked up 4 for 51 to go with his 6 for 96 in the first innings, along with Mohammad Irfan providing pace and bounce, ensured the chase wasn't easy and South Africa reached their target with four wickets in hand.
Amla was unperturbed about the team's modest batting performance. "It was not an easy wicket to bat on in the first innings - for both teams - and I wouldn't read too much into it."
South Africa dismissed Pakistan cheaply in the second innings despite Morne Morkel bowling only 3.1 overs before injuring his hamstring. Morkel will not play the third Test in Centurion, with Rory Kleinveldt slotted to take his place.
"Rory has become an integral part of the team, filling in whenever someone has been injured," Amla said. "Against New Zealand [in January 2013], he bowled really well and he's a quality performer. It's a lovely opportunity for Rory to cement his position as one of the leading bowlers in the country."
Despite securing the series with a 2-0 lead, Amla emphasised every game was important as it maintained a winning culture within the team. "A lot of us in the top order have got in, but haven't made massive contributions, so we're hungry to do that. The bowlers have enjoyed their wickets, and will want to keep on in that vein, so there is a lot to play for. This country is a very proud nation so we have a duty to uphold in that regard."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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