Hashim Amla has scored 144 runs at less than 29 in the 5 ODIs so far    Getty Images
Hashim Amla has scored 144 runs at less than 29 in the 5 ODIs so far Getty Images

Hashim Amla’s 71 in the fourth ODI between India and South Africa at Port Elizabeth went in vain as the visitors notched up a convincing win to take an unassailable 4-1 lead. South Africa have dominated ODIs for long, especially at home; before the defeats against India, they were the No. 1 side in this format. India have not only clinched the top ODI spot but also registered their first bilateral series win in South Africa. Amla admits that the team is not used to such hammering.

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, Amla told reporters on the eve of the sixth ODI on Thursday. We ve got a few younger guys in the team who will think, 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.

Blessing in disguise

Amla believes that the series defeat against India is a blessing in disguise for Proteas ahead of the 2019 World Cup in England: “When it comes to other series or World Cups we will 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.

On Indian wrist spinners

The Indian spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have already bagged 30 wickets among them in the series. Though Amla believes that the South African side has played them decently, he admits that the wrist spinners have been the difference: 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 ve played wrist spinners around the world.

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.

Supports Markram, the young skipper

Amla supported young skipper Aiden Markram, who was named the captain in absence of the injured Faf du Plessis. Markram was only 2 ODIs old when the crown fell upon: 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 ve seen the same 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.

Meanwhile, the Indian team took a day off on Thursday. The teams will meet for the final ODI on Friday, at SuperSport Park, Centurion.