India in South Africa

We haven’t been in this tough position before: Amla says SA intent on ending series on positive note

Having already lost the series, South Africa will take on India in the sixth and final match at Centurion on Friday.

South Africa opener Hashim Amla says his team is not used to the hammering that it has received in the ongoing ODI series against India and the emphatic nature of defeat has taken the Proteas back to the drawing board ahead of the World Cup next year.

India won a historic first ODI series on South African soil with a 73-run win in the fifth ODI at Port Elizabeth. The sixth and final match will be played in Centurion on Friday.

“I don’t think in one-day cricket we have 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,” Amla told reporters on Thursday.

“We have 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 have played decent cricket in patches but sub-par cricket from what were used to.”

Amla would like to believe that the loss against India is a blessing in disguise ahead of the World Cup in England.

“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 am 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,” said the opener.

Playing for pride

Amla said there will be a lot of pride at stake for the hosts in the sixth and final ODI.

“The World Cup is not far away. India are probably playing their best team. Whatever experience we get against them we will take forward. It is (easy to motivate ourselves). At every stage in the series you look at the positives.

“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,” he said.

South Africa also used this series as an experiment for the World Cup next year, and gave the likes of Ngidi, Heinrich Klaasen and Khaya Zondo a chance. But given the results, things haven’t gone to plan.

“One of the silver linings of losing a few matches like we have is you can throw out all the different learning you are going to take. In this series it has been highlighted that we haven’t been able to score runs in the middle period.

“They’ve been bowling decently and the younger guys and everybody really has learnt more about themselves playing spinners. There has never been an issue before even when we have played wrist spinners around the world,” he said referring to the batsmen’s struggle against Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.

‘Spinners have been the difference’

The Indian team took a day off on Thursday and there was not even optional practice. South Africa trained in the morning at Supersport Park, but much of their session was washed off by heavy rain.
The performance of Chahal and Yadav have been the difference between the two teams, insisted Amla.

“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 have got better in the last three games.

“We have played decently well against their spinners, but they have been the difference to be honest. They have picked up wickets in the middle period and there’s no better way to stop the scoring,” he felt.

Kagiso Rabada was fined by ICC and given one demerit point for the send-off to Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan. The former skipper didn’t comment on that aspect, but said that bowling has been one of the few positives from this ODI series.

“I think Kagiso (Rabada) has bowled well to be honest. Every game he has looked like he is going to pick up some wickets up front but it hasn’t gone that way. We have had Lungi Ngidi make his debut, so he is going to take a lot of experience and learning from the series.

“270 or 280 is not an overwhelming total, but unfortunately with the batting we haven’t been able to string enough big scores together whenever we needed to chase. Although we haven’t made early inroads we have managed to control the back end of the game. The last 15 overs of their innings haven’t run away from us, he added.

Amla came out in support of young skipper Aiden Markram who has found it tough in the absence of injured Faf du Plessis, who scored a hundred in the first ODI at Durban.

Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers were also injured, but the latter has returned for the last three ODIs and the T20I series.

“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, Oh, the captaincy has affected your batting. It certainly happened when I was captain and I have seen the same thing for other guys.

“Aiden is still young in international cricket. Obviously it was a great opportunity for him to captain and I think hes learned so much about captaining and also about batting when you are a captain in international cricket. Hes only going to get better.”

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Tracing the formation of Al Qaeda and its path to 9/11

A new show looks at some of the crucial moments leading up to the attack.

“The end of the world war had bought America victory but not security” - this quote from Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book, ‘The Looming Tower’, gives a sense of the growing threat to America from Al Qaeda and the series of events that led to 9/11. Based on extensive interviews, including with Bin Laden’s best friend in college and the former White House counterterrorism chief, ‘The Looming Tower’ provides an intimate perspective of the 9/11 attack.

Lawrence Wright chronicles the formative years of Al Qaeda, giving an insight in to Bin Laden’s war against America. The book covers in detail, the radicalisation of Osama Bin Laden and his association with Ayman Al Zawahri, an Egyptian doctor who preached that only violence could change history. In an interview with Amazon, Wright shared, “I talked to 600-something people, but many of those people I talked to again and again for a period of five years, some of them dozens of times.” Wright’s book was selected by TIME as one of the all-time 100 best nonfiction books for its “thoroughly researched and incisively written” account of the road to 9/11 and is considered an essential read for understanding Islam’s war on the West as it developed in the Middle East.

‘The Looming Tower’ also dwells on the response of key US officials to the rising Al Qaeda threat, particularly exploring the turf wars between the FBI and the CIA. This has now been dramatized in a 10-part mini-series of the same name. Adapted by Dan Futterman (of Foxcatcher fame), the series mainly focuses on the hostilities between the FBI and the CIA. Some major characters are based on real people - such as John O’ Neill (FBI’s foul-mouthed counterterrorism chief played by Jeff Daniels) and Ali Soufan (O’ Neill’s Arabic-speaking mentee who successfully interrogated captured Islamic terrorists after 9/11, played by Tahar Rahim). Some are composite characters, such as Martin Schmidt (O’Neill’s CIA counterpart, played by Peter Sarsgaard).

The series, most crucially, captures just how close US intelligence agencies had come to foiling Al Qaeda’s plans, just to come up short due to internal turf wars. It follows the FBI and the CIA as they independently follow intelligence leads in the crises leading up to 9/11 – the US Embassy bombings in East Africa and the attack on US warship USS Cole in Yemen – but fail to update each other. The most glaring example is of how the CIA withheld critical information – Al Qaeda operatives being hunted by the FBI had entered the United States - under the misguided notion that the CIA was the only government agency authorised to deal with terrorism threats.

The depth of information in the book has translated into a realistic recreation of the pre-9/11 years on screen. The drama is even interspersed with actual footage from the 9/11 conspiracy, attack and the 2004 Commission Hearing, linking together the myriad developments leading up to 9/11 with chilling hindsight. Watch the trailer of this gripping show below.

Play

The Looming Tower is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, along with a host of Amazon originals and popular movies and TV shows. To enjoy unlimited ad free streaming anytime, anywhere, subscribe to Amazon Prime Video.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon Prime Video and not by the Scroll editorial team.