Under-rated Amla takes giant one-day strides

Updated: 23 February 2011 16:49 IST

He may not be as high profile as master craftsman Sachin Tendulkar or flamboyant Virender Sehwag, but low-key South African Hashim Amla is on top of the world as one-day cricket's best batsman.

New Delhi:

He may not be as high profile as master craftsman Sachin Tendulkar or flamboyant Virender Sehwag, but low-key South African Hashim Amla is on top of the world as one-day cricket's best batsman.

Amla, the bearded 27-year-old, has come a long way since being dismissed as purely a Test player lacking the temperament to excel in the shorter form of the game.

It was because of this perception that he had to wait four years to make his one-day debut, after reaching the Test arena in 2004.

An elegant right-hander, Amla struggled to make a mark in his first 10 one-dayers before knocking off 140 runs against Bangladesh in Benoni in 2008.

And he has not looked back, helping himself to 2,156 runs from 42 one-day internationals at an average (59.88) that is superior to India's Tendulkar (44.92) and Sehwag (35.30).

It is little surprise then that South Africa batting consultant Duncan Fletcher sees Amla as key to the side's successful campaign in the World Cup.

"There is no doubt that Amla is a batsman of world class," said the former England coach.

"First everyone believed his technique was only suited to Test cricket but he has proved everyone wrong.

"He has worked hard on his game and is now a brilliant instant cricket player.

"There is no team in the world who would not select Hashim first. Besides his prowess with the bat, he is calmness personified -- something that is critical in the tournament."

Fletcher said what separated Amla from others was his ability to make the most of the powerplays when fielding restrictions are in place.

"He is outstanding in this time and extremely difficult to bowl to, especially because he uses his wrists so well."

What Fletcher did not recount was Amla's record in the sub-continent.

Amla, the first South African of Indian descent to make it to national squad, reserves his best against a country from where his grandparents hailed from.

He racked up 307 runs in three Tests in the 2007 away series which included a majestic 159 in Chennai followed by a gritty 81 in the second innings.

Three years later he showed he was still hungry for more, amassing 490 runs from just two Tests in Nagpur and Kolkata.

In the recent five-match one-day series against India at home, Amla aggregated 250 runs including a 116 not out in the decider at Centurion.

A devout Muslim, Amla won more fans when he refused to sport logos promoting alcohol on his playing gear.

Perhaps it is the conviction that he is doing the right thing which has brought Amla this far.

Topics : Hashim Amla South Africa Cricket ICC World Cup, 2011
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