Hashim Amla’s dream home debut as national captain gained further momentum on the second day of the first Test match against the West Indies at SuperSport Park on Thursday. Apart from losing the toss – and even that may later be seen as a blessing in disguise – Amla has had a wonderful time of it. By the time he was dismissed for 208 trying to force the pace (371 balls, 22 fours) South Africa were well on the way to a total of 552/5 declared before rain delayed the start of the West Indies innings. The rain eventually washed out the final session without the West Indies starting their reply.
However, the Proteas have scored so quickly that it is not going to set them back at this stage to any degree. It was Amla’s third innings in excess of 200 and was part of a mammoth partnership of 308 with AB De Villiers (152 off 235 balls, 16 fours and 2 sixes) and followed by another one of 155 with new cap, Stiaan Van Zyl. His calming influence was no doubt much in evidence as Van Zyl became the fifth South African after Andrew Hudson, Jacques Rudolph, Alviro Petersen and Faf Du Plessis to score a Test century on debut and the first to do so on home soil.
The left-hander finished unbeaten on 101 (130 balls, 15 fours) made in impressively quick time. The West Indies again had to make do without their leading bowler, Kemar Roach, which meant that Marlon Samuels had to stand in as fourth bowler and delivered 20 overs. It resulted in the unusual situation of the team winning the toss and bowling first resorting to 70 overs of spin – exactly half the number of overs sent down.
Amla has now drawn level with Jacques Kallis in being involved in four treble century partnerships – the South African record is held by Graeme Smith with five – with Kallis being his partner on all three previous occasions against England at The Oval (377*), India at Nagpur (340) and New Zealand at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium (330). This was De Villiers’ second treble century partnership after the 338 that he and Smith shared for the fifth wicket against Pakistan in the UAE last year.