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Amla: An all-format, all-weather force

Immense across formats

Hashim Amla is the only South African to score a triple-century in Test cricket and their second-highest run-getter in Tests. He is also one of five batsmen to score 25 or more hundreds in both Tests and ODIs, and one of only two to score 8000-plus runs at an average of over 45 in both formats. His numbers in T20Is weren't bad either: his strike rate in the format was 132, only marginally behind AB de Villiers' 135, and he is one of only four South African batsmen to score 1000-plus runs at a 130-plus strike rate in T20Is. Over a 15-year international career, Amla notched up formidable numbers no matter the format. His powers diminished in the last few years, but that doesn't shave off any of the shine from his glittering international career.

For a player who was first thought of as a Test specialist - Amla made his ODI debut over three years after he started playing Tests - he finished with outstanding numbers in ODIs as well. He remains the fastest - in terms of number of innings - to each of the 1000-run landmarks from 2000 to 7000.

Only four other batsmen - Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Kumar Sangakkara and Virat Kohli - have 25 or more hundreds in both formats, while AB de Villiers is the only other batsman to score 8000-plus runs at a 45-plus average in both Tests and ODIs.

The best years

Amla's form faded in the last two years - he averaged 26.9 in Tests and 36.6 in ODIs from the start of 2018 - but through the first half of this decade, he was immense in both formats. During the five-year period when he was at the peak of his powers in Tests, Amla averaged nearly 66 from 70 innings, and scored a hundred every 4.4 innings.

During that period, among the 33 batsmen who scored 2000-plus runs, only Shivnarine Chanderpaul had a higher average.

During the period between 2010 to 2014, Amla's away record was even more spectacular: 2253 runs at an average of 75.10, with 10 centuries in 20 Tests. In fact, Amla was South Africa's leading batsman in overseas Tests during the eight years when they were unbeaten in away series. South Africa won 10 out of 15 series during that period, and Amla played 34 out of South Africa's 35 Tests, scoring more runs - hundreds included - than any other batsman.

His ODI form remained top-notch till 2017; in the eight-year period prior, Amla's ODI aggregate of 6533 runs was bettered only by Kohli although Kohli played 51 matches more than Amla. Amla also won 15 Player-of-the-Match Awards during this period; only Kohli, de Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Martin Guptill won more match awards in these eight years.

South Africa's rock at one-down

For more than a decade, the South African Test team knew they could depend on Amla to anchor the innings at the fall of a wicket. He was a permanent fixture at No. 3, and with good reason: only three batsmen - Sangakkara, Rahul Dravid and Ponting - have scored more runs - and hundreds - at that position. For South Africa, the next-highest tally at that position is 3335, by Jacques Kallis. Excluding Kallis, who batted at No. 4 for most of his career, no other South Africa batsman has managed even 1500 runs at No. 3.

On top as an opener

If No. 3 was his preferred position in Tests, the opening slot was his own in ODIs. Out of the 178 times he batted in ODIs, only three times did he bat anywhere but at the top of the order. His 27 hundreds as ODI opener is third only to Tendulkar's 45 and Sanath Jayasuriya's 28, while his average of 49.89 is second only to Rohit Sharma's 58.18, among batsmen who have opened the innings at least 50 times in ODIs. With a cut-off of 100 innings, Tendulkar, Dilshan and David Warner make up the rest of the top five.

A giant in India

Some of Amla's greatest achievements in Tests came in India. In 2008, he scored 307 runs in five innings at an average of 61.40, but even that wasn't a patch on what was to follow on his next tour of India: in three Test innings in 2010, he made 253*, 114, and 123* - an aggregate of 490 runs, for one dismissal. His average of 490 is second-highest in any series in which a batsman has played more than one Test and scored 400-plus runs. The only instance of a batsman averaging more was in 1933, when Wally Hammond scored 563 in two Tests against New Zealand, and was dismissed once. The 1033 balls Amla faced in that series are the most by any batsman in a two-Test series in Asia. The 2015 series, when he averaged 16.85 from seven innings, somewhat spoiled his numbers in India, but despite that, he remains one of five non-Asian batsmen to score 800-plus Test runs in India at a 60-plus average.

Amla averaged 78 in three Tests in the UAE, but couldn't replicate that form in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh: in 16 innings in these two countries, he crossed 50 only once, and averaged 28.53.