Hashim Amla cracked his 20th ODI century as South Africa posted 411-4 in the Pool B match against Ireland in Canberra.
On Tuesday, it took Amla 100 deliveries to reach the three-figure mark. That measured march to 100 contrasted the rate at which he has scored centuries over the course of his career.
The ton at the Manuka Oval was Amla’s 20th in 108 innings. No ODI batsmen has reached the milestone in a shorter period of time. Not India’s Virat Kohli, and not even the man of the moment, AB de Villiers.
In the match against Ireland, Amla beat Kohli’s previous record of 133 innings. De Villiers is next on that list, having gone past the 20-hundred mark in his 175th innings against West Indies. Both Kohli and De Villiers are classified as world-beaters, but Amla’s stats confirm that he has contributed the big runs more consistently over the course of his career.
Of course, Amla’s innings in Canberra may have ended on 10 had Ed Joyce held a catch in the sixth over. Quinton de Kock was already out, and Ireland had a clear chance to dismiss South Africa’s other opening batsman. Amla clipped a Kevin O’Brien delivery straight to midwicket, and Joyce put the catch down.
It was a costly miss. Amla and Faf du Plessis put on 247 runs, a record second-wicket partnership for South Africa at the World Cup. They scored these runs at a rapid rate, and took few chances. This ensured that the platform was set for the Proteas to launch in the final 15 overs.
Du Plessis was dismissed shortly after scoring a richly deserved century. Amla accelerated, taking 24 balls to move from 100 to 150, and suddenly it looked as if a double century was within sight.
It was not to be, however, as Amla was caught in the deep after mishitting an Andy McBrine delivery. McBrine also claimed the prize wicket of De Villiers, but not before the South African skipper had smashed 24 off nine balls.
Great finishing by Rilee Rossouw and David Miller ensured that South Africa added as many as 131 runs in the final 10 overs. However, much of the credit must go to Amla and Du Plessis for batting South Africa into such a commanding position.
South Africa 411-4 (Hashim Amla 159, Faf du Plessis 109, Rilee Rossouw 61 not out, Andy McBrine 2-63)
Ireland need 412 to win