A masterclass double hundred from Hashim Amla led South Africa to a formidable 558/6 declared on day two of the first Test in Nagpur.
Eleven hours fourteen minutes, 473 balls, on a wicket taking spin like a fourth day track and under an Indian sun beating down at 31 degrees Celsius. Amla was phenomenal and when Graeme Smith halted the Proteas’ innings he stood unbeaten on 253.
If South Africa win, and it is far too early to predict a result, Amla’s brilliant and defiant knock will be remembered as one of the great Test innings by a South African. It certainly wasn’t flamboyant, but it perfectly illustrated Amla’s value to the Proteas.
His co-torturer from day one, Jacques Kallis, yet again fell short of that elusive double ton (he was out for 173), but Amla was a picture of concentration, refusing to flay loosely at the good balls, which were plentiful, but never missing an opportunity to punish those which were wayward, and those became increasingly frequent as the concentration of the India bowlers waned.
India will lament dropping Amla twice when his score stood on 149. They may well have been facing a far less daunting total had they taken their chances. However, the Durbanite looked assured thereafter, even when he spent eight deliveries on 199, before stroking the ball through the covers to surpass a memorable milestone.
Amla shared a 340-run partnership with Kallis, then was the subdued partner in a 104-run stand with AB de Villiers, who looked set to put India to the sword before he was caught at short third man for 53.
JP Duminy’s list of weaknesses seems to be growing with every innings – spin being his current Kryptonite. He was trapped lbw by Harbhajan Singh for 9. Mark Boucher built steadily before showing intent to get the scoreboard ticking over. Amla too, changed gears, and when Boucher holed out, the responsibility of driving the Proteas to a target that could possibly see them bat just once in this Test, fell to Amla.
Eventually captain Graeme Smith declared, allowing Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel four overs at the India top order. They failed to make inroads, going at four and eight runs per over respectively, and will no doubt have an arduous task on a flat wicket on day three.
South Africa (1st innings) – 558-6 declared
Hashim Amla 253, Jacques Kallis 173, AB de Villiers 53, Zaheer Khan 3-96.
India (1st innings) – 25-0
For full scorecard click here
South Africa lead by 533 runs