South Africa and the world’s No1 Test batsman will be batting on two fronts this weekend – in Durban, where his wife is expecting their second child, and in the UAE, where he will have an eye on his team’s preparation for the second Test against Pakistan starting here on Wednesday.
Hashim Amla, 30, one of the few heroes in South Africa’s humiliating seven-wicket loss inside four days to Pakistan in the first Test in Abu Dhabi this week, left the squad on Friday for Durban and is, if all goes well with the birth, expected back on Tuesday by the latest for the second Test.
“I’m looking forward to that (birth). I’ve just got to wait and see what happens. Hopefully I get home and try to assess how things go,” he said before jetting out of Dubai International.
“It’s a waiting game in many respects, a bit like a Test match, actually. I’ll just have to see what happens.
“I’ll be in communication with the guys. Whenever it does happen, soon after that I’ll try to get back.”
Meanwhile, on his team’s poor performance in the opening match of the two-match Test series, Amla said he had not been surprised at how well Pakistan played, but bemoaned the fact that the Proteas were not up to the mark.
However, he hopes that South Africa can turn things around when they get to Dubai for a crucial game that will decide the outcome of the two-Test series.
Amla added: “On the whole, they just played better cricket than us. They batted better than us and they bowled better than us, so credit to them for the performance they put in.
“Unfortunately, we were not up to the mark and hopefully we can turn it around in the next game.
“I don’t think we were surprised by how well Pakistan played. We knew they were a good team, especially in these conditions.
“They’ve got some good spinners and their seam bowlers as well, who we have played against.”
The Cape Cobras batsman rated Mohammad Irfan, the tallest fast bowler in the business who wears size 17 shoes and who was one of the two quicks in the Pakistan side to break the back of the South African batting.
“Mohammad Irfan is a good bowler,” Amla said.
“He is new to international cricket but you don’t have many guys who are as tall as him and who bowl a good pace in good areas.
“He bowled well and Junaid Khan also bowled well. The spinners backed it up on a wicket that didn’t turn a great deal, but turned enough to make it difficult.”
Amla, who scored 118 in South Africa’s disappointing first innings of 249, said he was happy to have got some runs on the board but felt that as a team they struggled and didn’t believe it was a 250-run wicket.
It was his 20th century in 71 Tests and he has now taken his runs tally to 5913 at an average of 52.32 in 123 innings, with the 311 not out against England at The Oval in London his highest score. It is a record for a South African Test batsman.
“I was quite happy to have got some runs on the board (against Pakistan), but as a team we kind of struggled. I don’t think it was a 250-wicket,” he said. “I think 400 was probably a par total for the first innings.”
Now, the bearded Amla believes the biggest thing the Proteas will need to re-adjust will probably be in their mental approach. - Sunday Independent