Hashim Amla is set to celebrate his 25th birthday a day after the first of the three-Test series gets over in Chennai. However, judging by the way he has batted over the last two days, it seems as if his birthday celebrations have come four days in advance.
Coming in to bat at No. 3, Amla scored a patient 159 before being run out. Amla didn't come across as a reliable No. 3 batsman before the series started.
But his innings proved his worth as someone who can lay a perfect anchor. The gritty right-hander registered the third-highest score by a SA batsman against India.
It was his first hundred against any other opponent apart from New Zealand. However, what was more pleasing for Amla was the fact that he reached his first Test century outside his home country.
“I take a lot of confidence out of it,” Amla said. “It's my first century away from home and it's a huge bonus for me. Something I was always determined to try and achieve and am glad it happened.”
So how does he rate this knock? “Right up there. May be number two,” he said.
“Obviously 176 against New Zealand was better because it was a trying time for me. My career depended on it that time. This one is up there because it's away from home. Anyway away from home is a huge challenge.”
With the high level of humidity and temperature soaring in the late thirties, Amla admitted that it was "the most difficult challenge" to bat.
“It's a good wicket to bat on, but it's the hottest conditions I have ever played under. Probably the most difficult challenge yet.”
Even Virender Sehwag applauded the way Amla applied himself. "Of course he batted well," he said. "We were not expecting that kind of knock from Amla but he did well.
“He showed great patience and proved to everyone that he is here to score runs. I am sure he will improve with experience and become a good player."
Amla admitted that success has come his way with a bit of experience and specific efforts to face the spinners. "I think it's a bit of both. I think it comes to a bit of experience and effort as well," he said
"South Africans at one stage had the reputation of not playing spin too well. In the last couple of seasons, however, we have done quite well in the sub-continent. I think it's to do with experience, exposure and conditions."
About the mix-up with Boucher, which led to his wicket, Amla said: “These things happen, Mark had timed it well and he though it would go past cover," he said. “He just said sorry to me."