Ahead of the final ODI against India at SuperSport Park Centurion, South Africa opener Hashim Amla has said that they will try their level best to end the series on a positive note. Having won the fifth ODI by 73 runs at Port Elizabeth on Tuesday (February 13), Team India have already taken an unassailable 4-1 lead in the six-match ODI series.
“At every stage in the series you look at the positives. After the first game you feel like you’ve lost but there are still a few to go. Now the positive is you want to end the series on a good note. The coach has a long-term vision and a few ideas up his sleeve, and he has the opportunity to play that. That will give us motivation. You still want to have pride in your performance for the country,” Amla quoted while addressing the media on the eve of sixth ODI.
The veteran opening batsman also admitted that South Africa are not used to this kind of hammering in the last 10 years. While India won the first two ODIs in Durban and Cape Town by 6 wickets and 9 wickets, they recorded a thumping 124-run victory and 73-run victory in the third and fifth ODI respectively.
"I don't think in one-day cricket we've been in this position. Maybe in 2008 in England, when we didn't have a good one-day series but there are always positives and learning to take from it," said Amla.
"We've got a few younger guys in the team who will think, 'Phew, one-day cricket is tough'. But thankfully it will only get easier for them because we haven't played our best cricket. We've played decent cricket in patches but sub-par cricket from what we're used to," he explained.
Amla feels that this humiliating series loss is an eye opener for the Proteas ahead of the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England as they will not take things for granted now.
"When it comes to other series or World Cups we'll be better prepared. Also we have won so many series in the past back to back, we were very fortunate and none of us took it for granted. But to lose a series like this gets your feet back on the ground.
"As a one-day unit you are always searching for certain things here or there, and I'm sure this has given us that impetus. When you're playing well and someone has a brilliant innings, cracks can be covered. But when you lose in this manner, whatever adjustments need to be made, you focus on it more. For me that's a very positive thing," the 34-year-old asserted.
Amla also insisted that the performances of India’s wrist spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have been the biggest difference between the two teams. It is worth mentioning here that Kuldeep and Chahal have taken 30 wickets out of the 54 Proteas wickets that had fallen in the five ODIs thus far.
“Their spinners have played a role as the highest wicket-takers in the series, which is not very common (in South Africa). They’ve bowled well, and it seemed like we took our first three games to get used to it. We’ve got better in the last three games.
“We’ve played decently well against their spinners, but they’ve been the difference to be honest. They’ve picked up wickets in the middle period and there’s no better way to stop the scoring,” he remarked.
Amla concluded by defending the stand-in Proteas skipper Aiden Markram, who has found it difficult in the absence of key players like Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers (missed the first three ODIs).
"I've been very impressed with Aiden on the field. He is very composed and has a good idea of what he would like. As a captain, if you don't score runs then the first thing that gets attributed to you is the 'captaincy has affected your batting'.
"It certainly happened when I was captain and I've seen the same cliche for other guys. Aiden is still young in international cricket. Obviously it was a great opportunity for him to captain and I think he's learned so much about captaining and also about batting when you are a captain in international cricket. He's only going to get better," Amla signed-off.