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Cricket news - The 'Mighty Hash' - A journey through epics
Temperamentally strong and rock-solid with the willow in hand, Hashim Amla's batting was a visual treat. When on song, he was an artist at work, producing sublime strokeplay and finding the gaps with surgical precision. Such was his finesse that he could even make the defensive shots look aesthetically pleasing. A humble personality who was loved and respected by one and all, Amla's retirement on August 8, 2019 marks the end of one of the finest batsmen of this generation. Here's a brief recap of the significant events from the 36-year-old's career.
International debut 2004 - vs India, Kolkata Test 2004
Having been a highly rated player in U19 cricket, Amla also led South Africa in the 2002 U19 World Cup and soon enough, found himself in the national side for red-ball cricket. Considering his Indian origin, it seemed fitting that his initiation to international cricket happened on Indian soil at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata. It wasn't a game to remember for Amla as he got out for non-significant scores.
Maiden Test century - 149 vs New Zealand, Cape Town 2006
The first hundred is always extra sweet, especially in the longest format of the game. Amla got to his maiden three-figure knock in Tests during the home series against New Zealand. On a batting-friendly Cape Town surface, the Kiwis had amassed a mammoth first innings total, riding on a masterful double ton from Stephen Fleming. In reply, Amla's anchoring ton (consuming nearly seven hours) and his partnership with Ashwell Prince enabled South Africa to give a fitting reply. The former impressed one and all with his skill to bat time. It was only the start of things to come.
Class under pressure - 100 vs England, Centurion Test 2009
On a surface that was starting to show variable bounce, Amla dug in, to produce a vigilant hundred that spoke volumes of his technique and temperament. Tottering at 46/4 at one stage, it was his partnership with AB de Villiers that allowed the hosts to wrest back the advantage in the game. This innings showed Amla's ability to thrive even when his side were under the pump against a quality attack.
Legendary Test tour of India 2010 - 253 at Nagpur, 114 and 123* at Kolkata
This trip was memorable for Amla as he cemented his position as a top-flight batsmen who could bat on all surfaces. Sub-continental conditions, especially in India do provide a serious challenges to Non-Asian batsmen but Amla aced the test with a marathon double ton in Nagpur, followed by twin tons at Eden Gardens Kolkata. He was an immovable object in that series, using his footwork and sweeps to unsettle the Indian spinners who had started to dread his presence at the crease. If not for a moment of misfortune in the Kolkata Test, he would have ensured a draw and that would have given South Africa a memorable series win but it eventually ended in a 1-1 deadlock.
Series-clinching gem - 116 vs India, Centurion 2011
With the five-match ODI series level at 2-2, it all boiled down to the decider that was played out on a slightly tricky surface. Amla's skillful century was the architect behind South Africa's competitive total that also had notable contributions from Morne van Wyk and JP Duminy. Both got decent knocks but it was Amla's ability to bat through the innings that worked for the Proteas. It provided them with a total that proved comfortably enough to pocket the series.
First triple century by a South African - 311 vs England, The Oval 2012
This was a historical series in which South Africa not only ended up on top but also became the top ranked side in Tests. Amla's contribution was of epic proportions, none bigger than his effort at The Oval. Despite the physically taxing challenges put forward by the weather and the Ramadan fasting, Amla remained unfazed as he churned out a gargantuan knock, soaking up over 13 hours at the crease. He also had partnerships of 250-plus twice, first with skipper Graeme Smith and then with Jacques Kallis as England were ground to dust.
Anchor turns enforcer - 150 vs England, Southampton 2012
Arguably Amla's finest innings in ODI cricket, this knock stands out for his sheer domination in the game. It wasn't a surprise to see Amla scoring at a brisk rate as he often managed a strike rate of 90 or thereabouts with minimal effort. This allowed the more pro-active batsmen to bat around him, unleashing their power to the hilt. The roles were reversed in this encounter as Amla tore into the English bowling, getting to his century off just 96 balls and the next 50 came off a mere 28 balls. Carnage was seldom so visually appealing.
Aussies face the heat - 196 against Australia, Perth Test 2012
In terms of sheer fluency in shot-making, this Amla innings has to be right up there among his best knocks. He walked to the crease with South Africa leading by 90 runs and went on a counterattack, dispatching the potent Australian pace attack to all parts of the WACA Stadium. He found the fence 21 times and the frenetic pace of scoring deflated Australia who were batted out of the game by him and AB de Villiers, both of whom produced aggressive centuries to drive home the advantage.
Signs off on a positive note - 80* against Sri Lanka, Chester-le-Street 2019
Having endured a disastrous World Cup campaign, South Africa's final league game against Sri Lanka proved to be a dead rubber. For a veteran like Amla, it was the final opportunity to leave a mark and he did so with a typically attractive half-century that had all his trademark strokes in it. Having gone criticized for his lack of form in recent years, it was a satisfying exit for Amla, even though he would have preferred to have gotten the runs earlier in the tournament.
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