Zimbabwe v South Africa, Tri-series, Harare August 29, 2014

Amla pleased with South Africa's intensity

Hashim Amla doesn't have fond memories of the last time he captained South Africa in a limited-overs tri-series in Zimbabwe. Two years ago, he led a T20 side on an unofficial tour, managed just one fifty and lost to the hosts in the final. He was only a stand-in today, with AB de Villiers rested due to a minor illness, but this match was all the more satisfying after.

"Why would you bring that up now?" Amla said when jokingly asked about his experiences in 2012. "I did think about it, and somebody mentioned it to me last night, but it's a bit of a different team and it's a fifty-over game so I had full confidence that 230 was defendable, even though we were missing two star players in AB and Morne. It's a good performance and I think it's always sweeter when you win after being under a bit of pressure."

South Africa were under a great deal of pressure when Prosper Utseya, the Zimbabwean offspinner heralded more for his economy than his wicket-taking abilities, ripped through the middle order to reduce South Africa from 142 for 0 to 155 for 5. They eventually limped to 231 all out - a total which was, fortunately for South Africa, more than enough after an insipid Zimbabwean chase.

"We were 50 or 60 runs short, but with these sort of totals you have to make it defendable," Amla said. "And we made it defendable. It's really disappointing but blowouts like that do happen in the game, although usually what happens is you have your blowout and you lose the game. We've had our blowout and we've won the game so hopefully that's us done for the series as far as batting errors go. Prosper bowled well so credit to him. Coming to the next game I guess there are a few guys in our team who are due runs, so it's a good space to be in that respect."

Amla suggested that South Africa's low total actually spurred them on to bowl with even greater vigour, as every run and wicket really counted. Indeed, one criticism that South Africa faced during their one-day series against Zimbabwe is that they took things a little too easily. That wasn't the case today.

"Had we scored 300 or 350 and won the game, the intensity in the field wouldn't have been as good as we normally have, so having 230 on the board kept everyone in the game so that's the pleasing aspect - that we were in the game until they lost the ninth wicket," Amla said. "Because a few big hits here or there, 60 runs is not a big margin to win by. So in the context of the game, we take a lot of confidence from that."

Amla was also pleased with the performance of his own spinners in conditions which helped them. Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso combined to take the wickets of Sikandar Raza, Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor, snapping the back of Zimbabwe's resistance.

"The funny thing is I think Prosper got most of his wickets with the ones that didn't turn, which is skill from his side, but also with the wicket, the odd one was turning and others weren't. Their spinners bowled quite well and tied the game up in the middle period and the wicket got better to bat on. But our spinners are quality spinners, so although the wicket wasn't turning as much, their accuracy and their skill factor helped and got us to victory."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

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  • Android on August 30, 2014, 21:34 GMT

    I guess with Amla being thrust into the limelight and also now being a core member of the team has to be doubly sure that SA does not choke in his presence. But still as an Indian iam rooting for my country but along with India - Australia, South Africa are the favourites with the dark horses being - New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

  • hlungwane on August 30, 2014, 21:27 GMT

    History should not beneath one's opinions. SA's record was poor in sri lanka and that couldn't affect the future. They've changed all that in their last tour of sri lank.

    Some1 might say SA won against Aussies because warner,clark n watson were not playing, but what score would Aussies have scored should both the mentioned guys were playing and SA fail to chase? Absolutely none.

    Aus needed a quality bowler not batsmen. I'm sure SA could have chased even 400+

  • Android on August 30, 2014, 18:11 GMT

    If south africa is bigger favourite to win world cup than dont make me laugh . Does the forgot about big C. It gonna to be india, Australia or srilanka. They teams are big match player when it needed the most.I am expecting them to be atleast in semi final

  • Blessing on August 30, 2014, 6:42 GMT

    @CricketGuru89 Aus, SA , NZ and Sri Lanka (in that order) are the best bets for winning the world cup

  • Apoorv on August 30, 2014, 5:26 GMT

    @CricketGuru89 And how could those 3 have effected the outcome of the match when even without them Aus managed a huge total? None of them are bowlers after all. And who was India missing when SA destroyed them in SA in conditions not so different from Aus. I am not saying that SA will win the WC but with the kind of results they have had in the last few months, you just cannot write them off. SA AUS NZ and SL are the teams to look out for in the next WC in my opinion

  • Prashant on August 29, 2014, 18:13 GMT

    Aus and India are better teams than SA for winning the world cup 2015.. India had won last year Champion Trophy & this year runner up of T20 World Cup and both times SA had easily beaten by India.. And on other hand Aus has never written off as a team.. Yes SA beaten Aus but Aus is playing without D Warner & S Watson as well as regular captain M Clarke... they are champion players for Aus.. And we all know the impact of D Warner when they had faced each other earlier this year... And the world cup is playing in the Aus so clearly they are the favorite to win the W cup...

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