SA batsmen shine again

2011-10-24 11:06

Proteas captain Hashim Amla was relieved to have his top order firing again after South Africa defeated Australia by 80 runs in the second one-day international in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

In contrast to their recent batting performances where, by their own admission, they had struggled to string together decent stands, the South African batsmen enjoyed the better conditions and formed two century partnerships which gave them a match-winning foundation.

“I’m very satisfied and this is the kind of performance we’re used to as a team,” Amla said.

“The batters did really well, setting up a massive score [303/6]. I didn’t think it was a 300 wicket – probably more a 250-par wicket – but those two big partnerships set it up.”

Amla admitted the team had produced erratic performances at the start of Australia’s tour.

After a six-month layoff, however, they appeared to have shaken off the cobwebs, drawing level at 1-1 in the three-match ODI series.

“We’re still finding our feet in a lot of ways, but we’ve come a long way,” the skipper said.

“This is the way we’ve played cricket over the last couple of years, and it’s taken us a while to get back there.”

While Amla was beaten for pace first up, falling from the first ball of the match, fellow opener Graeme Smith finally found some form, contributing 57 runs for his first half-century in 12 innings.

Smith looked uncomfortable for the first 10 overs but he had veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who top-scored with 76, to shield him while he found his way.

“Everyone knows Graeme and the amount of work he puts in and the desire he has,” Amla said.

“When he is playing well, we usually get good starts. Fortunately he played really well and had a good partner with him. Jacques has a wealth of experience and carried him through in those first few overs.”

After the pair put 142 runs on the board, the Proteas lost a few quick wickets before a middle-order century stand between David Miller, who made 59, and JP Duminy, who contributed 56, took the hosts over the 300-run mark.

While Duminy had gotten South Africa out of trouble on numerous previous occasions, along with his superb fielding abilities and his valuable contribution as a spin bowler, Miller needed to cement his place in the side.

With the top order not always performing, most of his appearances for the national side had been in pressure situations.

Feeling more relaxed with a big score on the board, Miller smashed a six off the second delivery he faced but was adjudged lbw in the next over.

Convinced he had got an inside edge, Miller immediately called for a review, without further consultation.

“I think it’s a pretty natural reaction to call for the referral if you know you’re not out,” Amla said.

“That’s the point of it – to take away decisions that are pretty much obvious. Fortunately, he got some bat on it and batted really well after that, so I think he handled it very well.”

Amla was impressed with their 107-run partnership and the way the more-experienced Duminy allowed Miller to play his own game.

“JP has a lot of experience and assessed the situation. He saw David was playing well so he didn’t have to force the pace. We know at the back end of the game he [Duminy] is very aggressive, he’s got fantastic hands and lovely scoring areas.”

The skipper said the future was promising after the Proteas won their way back into the hearts of their supporters.

“The way Davie [Miller] has come through epitomises where we’re trying to go,” Amla said.

“I’m just glad it happened so that people keep believing in us.”

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