Updated: February 20, 2015 12:38:37 pm
One man who will have a lot to prove to everyone on Sunday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), especially to the people with big money in India, will be South Africa opener Hashim Amla. (Full Coverage| Venues | Fixtures)
Also the South Africa Test captain, Amla is a run machine who will have an axe to grind come Sunday. He went unsold in two rounds of the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction of players in Bengaluru earlier in the week.
It was a complete surprise that a man of the calibre of Amla was not lapped up by any IPL side. Perhaps the old image of Amla being a Test specialist was sticking onto Amla.
That is a big service to Amla’s ability as a batsman who scores at will especially in the 50-over format.
In fact, Amla has played 12 ODI matches against India and has scored a total of 632 runs with a best of 116 not out. Amla has two hundreds and five half-centuries in ODIs against India. That means in a total of 12 games, Amla has passed a score of fifty, seven times.
Perhaps the IPL owners should have looked at Amla’s strike-rate, at least in the ODI format where he scores at 90.67 runs per 100 balls against India, better than his career strike-rate of 89.41. Amla’s average against India is 57.45, again better than his career average of 55.93.
Even if scoring against India is not a yardstick, then Amla’s overall ODI career is also very impressive. In 108 matches he has 5370 runs with 19 hundreds and 27 half-centuries. What’s more, Amla recently became the fastest to 5000 ODI runs, bettering the likes of Virat Kohli and Viv Richards.
If ODI stats were not good enough for the IPL owners, then Amla’s T20 numbers surely should have been. He has scored 1950 runs in 74 matches in all T20 cricket at a strike rate of 123.41. But all these stats of Amla did not find any favour with the IPL owners.
Even South Africa’s selectors viewed Amla as a Test match specialist in his initial years. Amla made his Test debut against India in November 2004 at Kolkata, but had to wait till March 2008 to make his ODI debut. Amla played a total of 22 Tests, before his ODI debut when he finally managed to convince the selectors of his ability in limited-overs format.
The stubborness of the IPL owners to look at an Amla will surely be repaid in kind by the right-handed batsman on Sunday. The Indian bowlers could well be at the receiving end of another Amla onslaught, smarting as he will be from a snub that would have been hard to digest.
Amla is ranked third in the world in Test batting ranking and second in world ODI batting ranking, but in the universe of IPL all this counts for nothing.
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