Hashim Amla’s first ODI century in eight innings propelled South Africa to 304-7 after they lost the toss and had to bat first in the first ODI against New Zealand in Centurion on Wednesday.
It was Amla’s 21st ODI hundred and equals Herschelle Gibb’s record for the most centuries for South Africa in the 50-over format.
Considering that Amla (124 0ff 126) shared a 185-run partnership with Rilee Rossouw (89 off 112), South Africa will be disappointed that they didn’t get a score closer to 350, which looked likely midway through the innings.
Rossouw had a slow start to his innings, but his patience paid off as he played an important knock at No 3 after Faf du Plessis was ruled out for four weeks with a knee injury.
Amla and AB de Villiers (9) lost their wickets within four balls of each other in the 45th over and it halted the momentum that had been build ever since Morne van Wyk (16) departed with the score on 46.
New Zealand let themselves down in the field after Rossouw was dropped in the 26th over on 32. It was a big opportunity for the visitors to break the partnership, and they again missed a chance five overs later when Amla was dropped at cover on 74 and South Africa cruising on 154-1.
Amla’s first hundred since his 159 against Ireland at the World Cup came off 109 balls and was wonderfully paced.
Rossouw was unlucky to miss out on what would have been his third ODI century when he missed a low full toss by Mitchell McClenaghan which broke the leg stump.
The Proteas will be disappointed that they couldn’t finish stronger as an attempt to pile on the runs at the end led to a flurry of run-outs.
A possible issue for New Zealand in chasing this target is the fitness of Martin Guptill, who injured his left wrist while attempting a catch.