Declaration gamble pays off

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Hashim Amla (AFP)
Hashim Amla (AFP)

Galle - Hashim Amla was probably more relieved than elated after his declaration gamble paid off and the bearded South African began his captaincy tenure with a thumping 153-run win against Sri Lanka on Sunday.

As it happened: SL v SA - Day 5

Amla gambled on the fourth day of the series-opener when he declared his team's second innings at 206-6, challenging the hosts to score 370 runs in four sessions to win the first test.

With Sri Lanka knocking 110 runs off that victory target by the close of play on Saturday losing just one wicket, things did not look particularly rosy even though history said no team had chased down such a big fourth innings victory target at the venue.

"I just wanted as many overs to bowl to win the game, it's not easy to bat last on this wicket, if we lose the game, so be it, but give us the best chance to win the game," Amla said of his declaration.

"At 110 for one, we thought if we get one wicket we had a chance because batting last and chasing 370 is a really tall ask for any team."

He was also lucky to have Dale Steyn, arguably the best fast bowler in international cricket, at his disposal and the quick came up with a match-winning performance to gift Amla a perfect captaincy debut.

Amla, on his part, displayed signs of a leader who was not averse to taking risk to get results.

"I was pretty confident and very excited, because that uncertainty is something that is quite exciting - bland word, but it is an exciting feeling to have that uncertainty," he said.

Amla was effusive in his praise for Steyn and was happy with the overall team performance which made him optimistic of winning the series against the gritty Sri Lankans.

"Not many teams have come here and won a test series so it's in the back of our minds," said Amla, adding all he was now looking forward was to "having a nice cup of tea and enjoying this win."

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