South Africa great Hashim Amla on Saturday broke yet another record of India captain Virat Kohli as he became the fastest to get to 27 ODI hundreds during the first of a five-match series against Pakistan at home.
Amla got his 27th century in his 167th ODI innings while Kohli had taken 169 innings to get to the landmark. The latter, who now has 39 ODI tons, had scored his 27th century way back in 2017 in an ODI against England at home.
Amla made a 120-ball 108 but his efforts went in vain as Pakistan won the first ODI in Port Elizabeth by five wickets, comfortably gunning down a target of 267 runs.
Amla has been receiving some flak for his knock that came at less than a run-a-ball. The South Africa opener 155-run stand for the second wicket with Rassie van der Dussen but the hosts managed only 266 in their quota of 50 overs despite losing only two wickets.
South Africa’s total became the lowest total in a 50-over match after losing only two wickets since the 1992 World Cup.
Amla remained unbeaten on 108 but South Africa were able to add only 106 runs in their last 15 overs, failing to get the big push in the death overs.
Former opener Herschelle Gibbs lashed out at the approach of Amla and Dussen, who had made his ODI debut on Saturday. Cricket fans on social media also criticised the former, calling his knock “a selfish” one.
Captain Faf du Plessis though defended Amla and Dussen, saying the Pakistan bowlers were better in the middle overs. However, he conceded that his team ended up 10-20 runs short towards the end.
“We were 10-15 runs short. The foundation was good but we could not add those extra runs in the end. They batted really well. These games are all about learning for us. We have had a great couple of weeks but today was a great learning curve for us,” Du Plessis said.
He added: “In-form Hashim is really important for us. Amla showed intent from the starting for us and his innings is a positive for us. They bowled really well in the middle overs. They bowled better than us in that phase.”
Pakistan, who were whitewashed in the Test series, crossed the finish line with five balls and five wickets to spare. Imam-ul-Haq laid the foundation for the chase with a 101-ball 85 while Mohammad Hafeez remained unbeaten on 71 (63 balls) to help the visitors take a 1-0 lead.