ICC World Cup: Hashim Amla's assault awaits India

South African opener meticulously plans his approach for Sunday's big clash against MS Dhoni's team

Ashwin FerroMelbourne: Hashim Amla’s brilliant batting ability is often camouflaged in one-day cricket due to the presence of two big bashers in the South African team — skipper AB de Villiers and David Miller.

However, Amla could play a significant role in this edition of the World Cup as the Proteas look to eradicate the chokers tag once again.

Fine form
Thankfully, for them, he is in fine form too with two centuries (153 & 133 at Johannesburg & Centurion on January 18 and 28 respectively) and two half-centuries (66 & 61 at Durban & East London on January 16 & 21 respectively) in his last five ODIs against West Indies recently.

South African opener Hashim Amla bats in the nets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday. Pic/Suman Chattopadhyay
South African opener Hashim Amla bats in the nets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday. Pic/Suman Chattopadhyay

It’s no wonder then that both SA coach Russell Domingo and consultant Gary Kirsten spent maximum time with the prolific opening batsman at nets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday.

Amla began slowly against the spin duo of leggie Imran Tahir and left-armer Aaron Phangiso before moving to the next net, where coach Domingo threw down to him from half-pitch. The shortened distance notwithstanding, the 31-year-old negotiated the throws perfectly — all off the front foot.

Around 30 minutes later, Amla and the team management weren’t done yet. Kirsten stepped into Domingo’s shoes and the throw downs became even more intense, this time with variations in length too, as India’s 2011 World Cup-winning coach banged it in hard.

Short and sweet
In response, Amla showed just why he boasts of an ODI average of 55.93. He simply rocked back and glanced the ball above the slip cordon. There were variations in Amla’s treatment of the short one too, as he ferociously pulled some off Kirsten’s throws.

Given how an attacking batsman like India opener Shikhar Dhawan controlled his aggression and impressively built his innings (73 off 76 balls) against Pakistan a week back, someone like Amla, who thrives on a slow and steady build-up, seems destined to excel at the MCG this Sunday.

The man himself is looking forward to doing just that too. “India’s the big one. Hopefully, I’ll do well against them,” he said as he signed autographs soon after practice at the MCG’s nets.

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