Cape Town: Hashim Amla would have liked to have walked out to bat for his 100th Test at the Wanderers next week with his reputation reasserted. Instead he will take guard with continued worries about his form after a duck on the third morning at Cape Town extended his unproductive run.
Amla’s sequence without a half-century now stretches to 10 innings, his latest failure coming with a fifth-ball nought in an otherwise dreary phase of the Test of little consequence in which South Africa, resuming with a lead of 317 and all wickets remaining, engaged in some cricketing arithmetic for more than three hours as they totted enough runs for a fail-safe declaration. And then some. That declaration finally came at 224 for 7, 75 minutes into the afternoon session. A lead of 506 was impregnable. Well, not quite impregnable. There was always the slight possibility that a Russian cyberattack could send cricket scoring systems across the world haywire and Sri Lanka could emerge, somewhat sheepishly, with a win late on the fourth day.
Reality was less encouraging. In eight overs up to tea, they lost Dimuth Karunaratne, who was set up nicely by Vernon Philander before he drove airily at an inswinger to be bowled between bat and pad. Presumably Amla might now join those malcontents who thought, with good reason, that South Africa should have enforced the follow-on with a first-innings lead of 282 and sought to wrap the game up in three days. After all, only three sides have ever lost a Test after putting the opposition back in and, having dismissed Sri Lanka in 43 overs, South Africa’s bowlers were hardly in need of recuperation.
At least it would have spared Amla that sinking feeling when he pushed routinely forward to an excellent delivery, seaming away around off stu-mp, from Suranga Lakmal and felt the nick that was heading inexorably to the wicketkeeper. Agencies