“The Test batsmen can never succeed in the shortest format of the game.” This stereotype was whipped by the South African batsman, Hashim Amla and in what style. Fighting against the odds, the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) opener brought up his maiden T20 ton on Thursday. The man was being called a passenger in the squad and the team was highly criticised for pushing Amla ahead of the Australian destructive batsman, Shaun Marsh. Amla needed 60 balls to clear all the uncertainties people had about him in their mind. Although his innings of 104(60)*might have gone in vain, as Mumbai defeated the hosts, Amla’s clinical performance will be etched as one of the finest innings in the history of Indian Premier League (IPL).

After KXIP played their first couple of games in the tenth edition of the IPL, a poll was conducted asking if Amla should be dropped from the squad. A whopping 67% of the respondents voted against the Proteas batsman. By becoming the second centurion of IPL 2017, Amla not only slammed his haters but also showed that class players will find a way to perform in any format. Even in his international career, he was not an instant hit in both Tests and ODIs and there were several questions raised against his technique. Thirteen years have passed since his debut for South Africa and today he is considered among the best batsmen of the modern era.

He was the first Proteas batsman to record a Test triple century. He gradually shifted gears from Tests to limited-overs cricket when he became the fastest batsman to 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 runs in ODI cricket. Every time, he was written off at a certain point in his career, Amla always found a way to prove his doubters wrong.

Similarly, he made his mark in the T20s as well and by doing so, his name will be taken with some of the best players of the game. While the T20 format is dominated by the hard hitters and their unorthodox shots, Amla’s innings was refreshing. There were no reverse sweeps, scoop shots or switch hits, Amla stuck to his classic nature. Similar to his game in longer formats, Amla exhibited copybook shots and made the occasion a memorable one for all.

Amla became only the sixth Test triple centurion to score a hundred in the shortest format of the sport. The other five batsmen who had achieved the feat earlier were Sanath Jayasuriya, Chris Gayle, Jayawardene, Virender Sehwag and Brendon McCullum. It goes without saying that, Amla is the odd one out among these players, considering his style of play. But what Indore’s Holkar Cricket Stadium witnessed was the other side of Amla. It was a memorable knock and there is one man who will always remember it forever – Sri Lankan fast bowler, Lasith Malinga. He was thrashed left, right and centre by Amla, who seemed in a ruthless form when he got going during the mid overs of Kings’ innings.

Amla began his innings slow. He hit only two boundaries in his first 27 balls before he went into the lethal mode with a massive six off Krunal Pandya’s bowling in the 11th over. In the next over, he smashed two boundaries off Malinga’s bowling and brought up a fifty. He had KXIP captain Glenn Maxwell on the other end. The Australian being at his destructive best went after McClenaghan and clinched 28 runs off the 15th over. Malinga was brought again; it was his penultimate over. Matching the standards of Maxwell, the Mighty Hash went all blazing with big hitting. He grabbed 20 runs with two sixes and two fours and that left Malinga with horrible figures, despite being the spearhead of Mumbai Indians.

A special chapter had opened in Amla’s career. The South Africa, whose strike-rate in T20Is/T20s was not even 130, had managed to be consistent with the T20 specialists like Marsh and Maxwell and his batting at a rate of 170+ was the cherry on the top. He was on strike in the last over with again Malinga with the ball. Under pressure, Malinga began the final over with a wide. The next ball was smashed for a six, it was Amla’s fifth six of the innings – his most in a T20 innings. The unstoppable Amla then left everyone in awe when he punched yet another six and raised his bat – he had done it; a maiden hundred in ant format is always special. Thank you, Amla. We all will cherish this knock, forever!

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