ICC Champions Trophy, Match 3, South Africa v Sri Lanka: CT Player of the Match - Hashim Amla

ICC Champions Trophy, Match 3, South Africa v Sri Lanka: CT Player of the Match – Hashim Amla

Amla made a superb 103 to set up the victory for South Africa

Hashim Amla of South Africa
Hashim Amla of South Africa celebrates his century. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Three days into the ICC Champions Trophy and crowds are already warming up to classy hundreds in cold England from some of the top-notch players in international cricket. The trendsetter was fittingly England’s Joe Root. New Zealand’s pillar who goes by the name of Kane Williamson duly followed suit, and today Hashim Amla graced The Oval with an almost august presence. Amongst the three centurions, Hashim Amla is undoubtedly the most accomplished and respected cricketer, and it was only proper that a player of his stature begin the tournament with a match-winning ton.

Hashim Amla’s hunger for runs has been insatiable, as has been his urgency to get them. His two hundreds in the recently concluded IPL came as a slap across the face of those who wrote him off as a Test batsman. Amla’s name repeatedly featuring in the list of fastest batsmen to the thousands is a testimony to his adaptability and his class.

Under typical English grey skies, Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock walked out to the middle after opponents Sri Lanka put the Proteas in to bat. South Africa looked jittery at the start, as the Lankan pacers forced the openers on to the back foot. Amla checked himself from the outset. At the end of 12 overs, he had 18 off 31 with only one boundary to feature in his innings thus far. De Kock’s dismissal, however, changed the course of the game, as it brought Faf du Plessis to the crease.

Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis take charge

Although the effects weren’t immediate, Amla and du Plessis slowly and steadily took South Africa forward. Their run rate had improved considerably from 3.46 at one stage to 4.81 at the end of the 22nd. The end of that over also brought up Amla’s 34th fifty and he was indeed picking up the pace at that point.

The odd boundary in the over became a more regular feature in the South African innings past the halfway mark. Amla accelerated to maintain a strike rate within the 90s. He was ably supported by du Plessis, who raced to 75 before he was removed by an excellent catch by Chandimal. Skipper AB de Villiers came and went without making an impact whatsoever, but Amla edged into the 90s once again.

Drama, however, played its part in Amla’s brilliant innings. 1 short of yet another hundred, the Sri Lankans made a loud appeal for a caught-behind. Aleem Dar’s shake of the head would have brought Amla’s heart back to where it was. Luck favored Hashim Amla, as Sri Lanka had already used up their review. Amla lived to tell the tale, and the very next ball, he got to his 25th ODI ton. Amla thus became the fastest batsmen to 25 ODI tons and dislodged Virat Kohli from the throne.

A brilliant knock comes to an end

A run-out was perhaps the only way Hashim Amla could have been dismissed, and a run-out the Sri Lankans got. Amla was visibly tired, as he took time to turn back for the second which cost him his wicket. He walked back with 103 off 115, lapping up the applause of a standing crowd at The Oval.

In reply, the Sri Lankans wasted a flying start. Imran Tahir’s brilliance coupled with reckless batting from Sri Lanka made 299 look like a massive total. Eventually, South Africa handed the Lankans a sizable 96-run defeat.

So far, the Champions Trophy has been an exhibition of elegance with the bat, and three ambassadors of the game have taken center stage. Hashim Amla is only the latest to join the list of elite batsmen to have lit up England with his batting prowess. By extrapolation, Virat Kohli should take Pakistan by storm on Sunday. Predictions aside, Amla’s innings breathed life into South Africa after a disappointing ODI series against England. His match-winning knock deserves a pat on the back. What it also deserves is the CT Player of the Match award.