Supersport analysts HD Ackerman and Shaun Pollock see hope in Hashim Amla’s innings as South Africa chase 629 in the second Test at Newlands.
On Amla’s innings of 64*
Ackerman: ‘It wasn’t an ideal start for Amla; losing Stiaan van Zyl so early was not great. But it’s a good wicket, it’s perfect for him. You are always holding your breath at the start of his innings, but it is looking more and more like Hashim Amla as the innings progressed.
‘He didn’t look under threat from Moeen Ali, whereas recently we’ve seen a very different Hashim Amla against spin, and he was always a good player of spin. But there were three shots in quick succession: the one to go to fifty, which was just a flick of the wrist through midwicket; then he played square cut to third man and then an on-drive for four, and you thought, “that’s it, that’s it”.
‘If he goes to bed with more confidence, that is great for South Africa because he can bat for a long time.
As well as he played, he cannot keep walking to the to the crease so early every single Test match. They have got to start building some opening partnerships. The No 3 has the technique to do that, but he can’t keep doing that game in, game out.’
Pollock: ‘Sometimes you can’t recognise why a player is out of form but when you see them play certain shots you can recognise, “hold on, they’re back”, and that’s the feeling you get from seeing him play those shots today.
‘He is class player he must have worked on technique over the past few days but we saw glimpses of it in Durban in that second innings. We were looking for confirmation and I think we saw that today. He is heading in the right direction. He will definitely take confidence personally from that innings.’
On England’s bowling
Ackerman: ‘It is an excellent wicket for batting; it could turn out to be a very good Test match wicket. England have got to be relentless in that they want to nip out South Africa. It is still a batting line-up low on confidence. One of them has gained confidence – Hashim Amla – but there is still Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock who has just come back in.
‘England will feel they can still knock South Africa over for, well, not a low total, but still go on and win this Test. South Africa will look at this wicket and say, “there is nothing to be scared of here. We can see out this Test match”. It is still true, there is not a huge amount of turn and it’s not breaking up. They will still have to bat well in this first innings, but they can be confident.’
Pollock: ‘England came out with obvious game plan; they watched South Africa bowl and then they thought, “this is how we need to go about our business”. The key was that with their experience they didn’t give too many bad balls away like South Africa did and they kept South Africa quiet for a period of time. I think the one thing they will regret is the missed catch to Joe Root, because that would have been huge. To get AB or Hashim, you feel you can burst through. And it’s hard work out there for a bowler.’