Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
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Hashim Amla, South Africa's fourth-highest Test run scorer, third-highest Test century maker, second-highest double-hundred getter and highest individual Test score holder, will play his 100th Test this week. Having debuted in November 2004, Amla is now the longest-serving member of the current South Africa squad, and its most experienced.
Despite a recent slump - Amla has gone 13 innings without a century and ten without a fifty - he still has much to offer, if his early wishes for his career still hold true. "I hope it will be a long Test career, and maybe if I can score 50 centuries in my career, no one will question my technique," Amla said after his first Test century more than a decade ago. There have been 24 more since then, all magnificent in their own way. ESPNcricinfo has selected a special seven in salute to the man known as the "Mighty Hash".
149 v New Zealand, Cape Town, April 2006
Recalled to the team after an initial run of three Tests without much success in the 2004-05 season, the 15-month absence did wonders for Amla. He returned with the same unusual backlift but more confidence in the way it served him and dished up a patient innings laced with front-foot drives to prove he belonged. He spent more than seven hours at the crease and gave the first glimpses of his wristiness after he'd reached his fifty. Against Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel, Amla flicked and nudged, moving across his stumps appreciably to turn the ball to the leg side, which became a signature of his batting style. His hundred came off 242 balls and he went to fall one short of 150 as he led South Africa's response to New Zealand's 593 for 8 declared, helping to secure a draw.
253 not out v India, Nagpur, February 2010
By now an established member of the side, who had already scored a hundred in India and had his name on the honours board at Lord's, this was the innings in which Amla showed how much he could dominate. South Africa were 6 for 2 before Amla calmed things down over the next day and a half, during a partnership of 340 with Jacques Kallis. He was strong on the back foot, especially against spin, although the knock was not chanceless: Amla was dropped on 61, 82 and twice on 149. That he would go on to make the opposition pay became a common feature of Amla's career. After 11 hours and 15 minutes at the crease, Amla looked comfortable enough to bat for the rest of the match but the South Africa innings was declared on 558 for 6, by which time Amla had set them up for a remarkable win.
114 and 123 not out v India, Kolkata, February 2010
With a series lead to protect, South Africa were in early trouble again before Amla combined with a new opening batsman, Alviro Petersen, to get them out. They put on 209 for the second wicket, with Amla ushering Petersen to a ton on debut. Amla was particularly severe on India's quicks and punished them for anything on the pads or too short. This was one of his more aggressive knocks in which he played late, chased wide balls and scored quickly, even when it started turning. His team-mates could not say the same, as South Africa collapsed from 218 for 1 to 296 all out, but Amla had given them something to work with. In the second innings, facing a deficit of 347, Amla stood alone while the rest of the line-up were spun out by Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra and India leveled the series. Amla's second hundred of the match showed his ability to adjust to conditions South Africa are not used to thriving in.
311 not out v England, The Oval, July 2012
Amla ground England into the dust at The Oval•Getty Images
South Africa went to England on a mission to take the Test mace and Amla put them in position to accomplish that. Against a fired-up James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who were moving the ball, Amla bided his time and got himself in - after being dropped on 40 - before treating The Oval to a display of timing, placement, temperament and patience that will be remembered in years to come. His delicate touches, including the steer down to third man, were complemented by a classic cover drive, confident sweep and even a few disdainful swats as he wore the England attack down. No South African had scored a triple-century before that day but that was not all that was remarkable about Amla's innings. In the 13 hours and 10 minutes Amla was at the crease, over the course of three days, he did not change his batting gloves once. Neither did he take a sip of water in public view. It was the Muslim month of Ramadan at the time and, although Amla was not fasting on match days, he chose to keep his consumption private as a mark of respect.
196 v Australia, Perth, November 2012
A rain-affected match and a fighting draw meant a second successive series win in Australia was up for grabs in Perth but South Africa needed big, quick runs to claim it. Amla may not have immediately come to mind as the person to do that but he showed a side of himself that the Test arena rarely saw in two dynamic periods of play with Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers, adding partnerships of 178 and 149 respectively; the one with Smith came at 6.98 runs to the over as they batted Australia out of the match. Amla's innings was attacking and explosive as took on the short ball against some of the world's best bowlers and hit Mitchell Johnson back over his head. He brought out the scoop over backward point, the slice over gully and several full-blooded drives. Former national coach Gary Kirsten identified this innings as Amla's best, because if its fluency and fluidity.
139 not out v Sri Lanka, Colombo, July 2014
Amla registered his first Test ton against Sri Lanka•AFP
Amla's first series as Test captain started well when South Africa won the first Test in Galle but was in danger of being drawn as Sri Lanka surged back in Colombo. They put on 421 in the first innings and then unleashed their spinners on a South Africa side that were only just holding on. In complete contrast to Perth, Amla had to gear down and chug along, defend deliveries and eat away at time. Amla spent eight hours and six minutes smothering turn and refusing runs. It was not his most attractive knock but it was among his most resolute and defiant. Amla's appetite for a blockathon was even greater in the second innings when he faced 159 balls for 25 runs in a vigil of almost three hours to ensure the match was drawn and the series won.
201 v England, Cape Town, January 2016
South Africa had lost in India and slipped 1-0 down in their home series against England and things were looking tough for Amla. He had gone 11 innings without even a half-century and the burden of being captain and the pillar of the batting line-up was starting to weigh on him. A flat pitch at Newlands could have taken off some of the load but England's line-up got to make first use of it and scored 629 for 6, with Ben Stokes plundering 258. By the time Amla got to the crease on the second day, he had already decided he would give up the captaincy. He played with freedom and albeit that the challenge of this knock lay neither in overcoming conditions nor the opposition, this was vintage Amla. The drives, the flicks, the wrists, the timing, they were all there. Afterwards, Amla appeared happier than he had in months and signed off as skipper with some measure of success.