Ahead of the first Test against Pakistan at SuperSport Park in Centurion, veteran Proteas batsman Hashim Amla has received the backing from his skipper Faf du Plessis.
Amla is going through a rough patch lately. During South Africa’s most recent Test assignment in Sri Lanka, Hashim averaged just a paltry 10. He looked out of sorts in the recently concluded Mzansi Super League. Playing for the Durban Heat, Amla managed to aggregate only 71 runs in seven matches.
"Hash has been our rock at number three," Du Plessis told reporters on the eve of the opening Test against Pakistan on Tuesday.
He advised the seasoned campaigner to spend some time in the middle to regain his form.
"What is important is time in the middle. Hashim knows he hasn't scored the amount of runs he would have liked in the last year but it's a new season and he's fresh, coming off a fifty.
"It is important for him to get off to a good start in this series, just to settle the nerves and be confident. Hashim technically he is one of the most sound players in the world," he added.
The South African captain also admitted that Amla, 35, had slipped from his usual high standards, scoring only 444 runs at an average of 23.36 since his last century against Bangladesh in October 2017.
In a bid to cushion him, Proteas team management had moved Amla to No. 4 in the batting order in Sri Lanka with Theunis de Bruyn filling the No. 3 slot and hitting a century.
"There was a reason for that. In Sri Lanka we needed that (Amla) experience against the spin and we felt it was easier for Theunis as a new player to come in when the ball was still a little bit harder," Du Plessis asserted.
He said South Africa's experience of home conditions could give them the edge over Pakistan.
"There are two very good bowling attacks. It is going to be a challenge for the batting units. Our batsmen are used to playing in these conditions. If you can get them (Pakistan) in trouble early there's something in their middle order you can work with. Hopefully we can put some doubts in their batsmen," Faf remarked.
Talking about the pitch, Du Plessis said: "I'm not sure. It looks a bit greener. Last season they tried to leave grass on but it all burnt dead. I like clarity for a Test at home."
(With AFP inputs)