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South Africa’s Amla hits ODI hundreds milestone at World Cup

March 3, 2015

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — AB de Villiers has good reason to describe Hashim Amla as the rock of South Africa’s batting lineup.

While de Villiers makes headlines for the speed at which he racks up his runs, Amla keeps compiling centuries at an unprecedented rate — he posted his 20th ODI hundred in the 201-run win over Ireland at the Cricket World Cup on Tuesday, just his 111th limited-overs international.

Just for good measure, Amla marked the occasion with 159 from 128 balls, his highest ODI score to date.

“Any hundred is a hundred,” he said, “doesn’t matter how long it takes.”

Averaging almost 57 and scoring a century about once every 5 ODI innings, Amla is not the kind of batsman an opposition team can afford to give reprieves.

Ireland made that mistake in Canberra, when Ed Joyce dropped a sharp chance off Kevin O’Brien’s bowling in the sixth over.

And Amla made the most of his reprieve, combing with Faf du Plussis (109) in a 247-run second-wicket stand that helped South Africa toward its total of 411-4, the second-highest innings ever at the World Cup.

He was finally out in the 42nd over, caught in the deep by Joyce off Andy McBrine’s bowling.

By then, the 31-year-old right-hander had set an international benchmark with his 20th ODI century in 108 innings — shaving 25 innings off the record set by India’s Virat Kohli.

De Villiers, who entered the World Cup as the leading batsman in the ODI format — marginally ahead of Amla — took 175 innings to reach the same milestone.

“Today myself and Faf had a partnership going and we were pretty much settled in and we felt that maybe this is the time to just get a little momentum going and we went with it,” Amla said, attempting to play down his contribution. “There is no set formula for when you decide to go. On any other day, we could have tried it and we could have got out. But the benefit of that is that we’ve got a long batting line up and the guy coming in would have had a good base still to pull an innings and get some runs.”

As Alma and du Plessis found their rhythm, they gathered pace. The Irish bowlers had no answers.

Amla slogged two sixes and a boundary in the 24th over. His best over was the 38th, when he cleared the boundary twice and sent the ball crashing into it four times.

The raucous cheers from both South African and Irish supporters when de Villiers walked on as the fourth batsman during the 39th over underscored the fact that he was the player the vast majority of the 8,800 crowd had come to see. But scoring only 24 runs before he was dismissed, the captain took a backseat to Amla.

Since Alma’s uninspiring Test debut in 2004, he has has proven his worth as a consistent high-performer, setting a string of records for accumulating big scores. He has been a permanent feature of South Africa’s ODI line-up since his debut against Bangladesh in 2008.

In 2012, Amla became the first South African to score a triple century when he posted 311 not out against England at The Oval in London. And in 2013, he was named among the Wisden Cricketers of the Year.

As far as the World Cup goes, Amla said he was still finding his rhythm.

“You’d like to score runs every game, but I don’t think that’s quite possible — unless you’re Don Bradman of A.B de Villiers,” he said.

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