A lot of people were surprised when Kings XI Punjab picked Hashim Amla as a replacement to the injured Shaun Marsh. Taking nothing away from former South Africa skipper, who has proved his worth in every format with tons of runs, but as a debutant in IPL, it did raise eyebrows.
Amla was supposed to bring stability to the faltering middle order but his first three matches were disappointing. He had a dreadful opening match, getting run out for 1 against Delhi Daredevils, and followed it with a 21 against Royal Challengers and a naught against Mumbai Indians.
On Sunday, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Amla came into his own, anchoring the Kings XI with a blistering 56-ball 96 to help the side set a competitive score of 179.
But his effort was in vain as Yuvraj Singh led Sunrisers to a seven-wicket win.
Amla didn’t set a foot wrong as he picked the gaps, pulled with aplomb and grafted boundaries at will to keep the scoreboard ticking. He started off by taking on Ashish Nehra, and hammered the left-arm pacer for three fours in the second over.
After in-form skipper Murali Vijay departed early, Amla took on the scoring mantle and stitched partnerships of 54 and 65 with Wriddhiman Saha and Gurkeerat Mann.
He took a special liking for Nehra, who he hammered for 25 runs off 11 balls. Moises Henriques was equally expensive, going for 21 runs off 10 balls.
As Saha and Mann played second fiddle, Amla took the game to the opposition. Saha scored 27 off 23 balls, while Mann added 27 as Kings XI scored 58 in the last five overs.
By the time Amla holed out to David Warner in the 19th over, falling short of the magical figure by four runs, he had done his job for the side.
Vijay was all praise for the South African.
“He has been a fantastic player for so long and the way he played on this wicket it was great to watch from outside. To end up on the wrong side, we are definitely feeling sad for him. We can take that on the chin and play the rest of the matches for pride,” he said.