6 September 2012
Hashim Amla starred as South Africa beat England by 7 wickets in the fifth and final one-day international on Wednesday evening to draw the series 2-2. Frankly, though, both teams will be a little disappointed with the outcome of the series.
After the first ODI was rained out, South Africa failed to fire in the third and fourth ODIs, while England were sub-standard in the second and fifth ODIs. On a positive note for the Proteas, England had not lost a 50 overs game all year until the teams met.
On Wednesday at Trent Bridge, South Africa’s bowlers produced a solid all-round performance to dismiss England for only 182. Dale Steyn, with swing, and Robin Peterson, with spin, led the way with hauls of 2 for 24 and 3 for 37 respectively.
Captain Alastair Cook top scored for England with 51, but only three other batsmen made more than 10 runs.
In reply, South Africa were in serious early trouble after being reduced to 14 for 3, but Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers then put on an unbeaten stand of 172 to take the Proteas to a convincing victory with 93 balls remaining.
Amla, the Man of the Match and Player of the Series, dealt with his own success briefly by saying in a post-match interview at the awards ceremony: “It’s been a good summer for me.”
He then spoke about the team, saying: “I’m just glad we got to level the series. Obviously, it was quite an intense, low-scoring game, but we’re just glad we came out on top.”
Captain AB de Villiers said his team had produced up-and-down performances in the series. “A little bit inconsistent for my liking,” he admitted.
“There were a lot of positives,” he added, “especially today, the way the boys came back with a lot of character. Under pressure, we showed a lot of guts there.”
‘Lots of new faces’
Questioned about a line-up that showed quite a few from the side that won the test series 2-0, De Villiers said: “There were lots of new faces. We’re still trying to find our feet and various combinations, but all in all the guys handled it really well.
“Some of the guys obviously didn’t get the runs they wanted to, and get the wickets they wanted to, but we’re a tight unit and we’re working towards one goal. We’ve got a great squad here and hopefully we will keep the same squad moving forward.”
The most lasting impression of the series will be the brilliance of Amla. If he had (arguably) not quite made it into the elite of the world’s cricket stars before the Proteas’ tour of England, Amla has certainly now sealed his place in the top handful of global stars.
His total of 335 runs was close to double the tally of the next highest run scorer, Ian Bell of England, who scored 181 runs at 45.25.
Amla scores in the series read 150, 43, 45 and 97 not out. Each one of those scores was the highest by a South African in those matches.
His runs came at the astonishing average of 111.66 and by the end of the series his ODI career statistics made for spectacular reading: 60 innings, six not outs, 3 216 runs at 59.55 at a strike rate of 91.72 runs per 100 balls, with 10 centuries and 19 fifties.
He is the runaway batting leader at the top of the ODI rankings at a career high of 901 points, well clear of Virat Kohli, who has 858 points in second place; 900 points is considered exceptional and not even one-day international cricket’s all-time leading scorer, Sachin Tendulkar, with a career high of 887, has reached that summit.
Amla’s star has risen not only on his statistical performances, but on the manner in which he has scaled the heights. At all times he has exhibited extreme humility, focusing on the team’s rather than his own performances, making him a very easy man to like and respect, regardless of a fan’s allegiance.
AB de Villiers, third in the ODI batting rankings, had a mixed series by his very high standards. He managed 170 runs at 56.66, including an unbeaten 75 in the final match, but got himself out when well set for bigger things in the three of the four contests.
Left-arm spinner Robin Petersen was used as an opening bowler and enjoyed success, picking up a series leading seven wickets at 21.71, whilst conceding only 4.22 runs per over.
The bottom line, though, despite some top individual performances is that the Proteas will surely consider the series one of lost opportunities.
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