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“Amla failed to produce anything in this game as well. Moreover, South Africa’s poor run in this World Cup has coincided with Amla’s wretched form which seems to be going from bad to worse. Amla’s poor run has resulted in additional pressure on the unstable middle-order”

There was a time when Virat Kohli went about setting records and Hashim Amla kept breaking it. Kohli used to set records for reaching a particular landmark (be it the number of runs or centuries) in a record number of innings and Amla used to break that and used to do in some style. Mind you, those records weren’t broken by one, two or three innings, Amla used to do it well in advance.

We talk about the ODI beast in Virat Kohli and the comparison often runs among the Fab four – Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, and Joe Root. But Hashim Amla is no less. He’s a pretty underrated cricketer who consistently churned out performances for South Africa. There wasn’t a lot of limelight on him and he quietly went about his job and kept churning out the runs.

Also read: Hashim Amla: Class is Permanent

He was the bank at the top of the order for the Proteas in limited-overs cricket. Amla was that assurance, that glue at the top that ensured solid starts and laid the platform for the strong middle-order.

However, Amla was seen quite some time back. The Amla that has been turning out for South Africa looks a pale shadow of his old self. There’s hardly any resemble in the way he’s going about his business on the field. Amla’s struggle has lasted for over 18 months now and he seems to be struggling big time. At the moment, he seems lost as South Africa are going through one of their worst phases in a World Cup.

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Amla has scores of 13 (against England), 6 (against India) and 6 (against West Indies) in the three innings he’s batted so far in this World Cup. He’s been troubled by some quality pace and has been found out. Hand-eye coordination which was one of Amla’s biggest strengths seems to have disappeared. He has been beaten for pace on multiple occasions in this World Cup and that was something you rarely saw with the Amla of old.

He was beaten by a sharp bouncer from Jofra Archer which pinned him on the helmet and he walked off the field. He did return later on but subsequently missed South Africa’s next game against Bangladesh. Amla then succumbed to the pace and bounce of Jasprit Bumrah against India before he was nipped out by Sheldon Cottrell in the game against the Windies.

Amla has been struggling for a while now. Since the start of 2018, the right-handed opener has amassed 554 runs at an average 30.77. He is not even in the top 50 run-getters in this period. Yes, he’s played just 19 innings which is quite less when compared to some of the others but his numbers aren’t promising either.

In the 19 innings he’s played since the start of 2018, he has gone past the 50-run mark just four times. That means Amla has gone past that landmark once in almost every five innings which is almost double to what he used to achieve before 2018. He had 60 scores of fifty or more in 155 innings before the start of 2018.

In fact, 2018 was his worst year in ODI cricket. He averaged just 28.64 while amassing 315 runs. He could muster just a couple of half-centuries. That average of 28.64 is his worst-ever in his career in a calendar year in the 50-over format.

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He did have a decent series against Pakistan where he scored a fifty and a hundred but apart from that, there’s been nothing substantial from Amla’s bat. There were also speculations about his place in the World Cup squad. However, it was his experience that prompted the selectors to keep faith in him. His form in the warm-up games in the leadup to the main tournament would’ve pleased the team management but once the main draw was underway, Amla’s bat was once again quiet.

So, is the Mighty Hash (as he’s often called) who was once breaking Kohli’s records for runs and centuries coming to an end? The stats and his mode of dismissals certainly suggest so. He notched up his 7000th run in ODI cricket back in May 2017 in his 150th innings. 24 innings later and he is yet to cross the 8000-run mark. He was tipped to break Kohli’s record of 175 innings to the landmark but now, he can just level him at best.

This is certainly not the Amla everyone knew. His run-scoring graph has taken a drastic turn and for the worse. Moreover, he’s not getting any younger. He is 36 and his days seem to be numbered.

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On the eve of the game against West Indies, Kagiso Rabada was hopeful. He was hopeful that Amla could reproduce the magic, the brilliance he used to. “As his teammate, we are there to support him. We know that he can, you know, produce magic out there on the field and he’s been showing signs of it in the warm-up games and we are really hopeful that he can come off,” Rabada was quoted saying in the pre-game press conference.

Amla failed to produce anything in this game as well. Moreover, South Africa’s poor run in this World Cup has coincided with Amla’s wretched form which seems to be going from bad to worse. Amla’s poor run has resulted in additional pressure on the unstable middle-order. Hence, the question is for how long will South Africa stick with Amla? For how long will the experience count? For how long will South Africa be hopeful? They are now in desperate times and they need to win almost everything to stand a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals in this World Cup.

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