HASHIM AMLA gave notice of the attacking intent he intends to bring to the Castle Lager Proteas when he declared at tea on the fourth day of the first Test match against Sri Lanka at Galle on Saturday.
He set Sri Lanka a target of 370 in 122 overs when several of his predecessors have been intent to bat the opposition out of the game before making a declaration.
Sri Lanka certainly hace a theoretical chance a least of achieving a famous victory and they will have been given confidence by reaching 110/1 by the close of play, needing a further 260 for victory. Reality is, however, on the Proteas side with no side ever having made more than 300 in the fourth innings to win at this venue.
Amla’s positive declaration was made possible by an excellent combined batting display in the Proteas second innings that saw them score at more than four to the over under difficult conditions.
As always AB de Villiers made the conditions look a lot easier than they really were with his innings of 51 off 58 balls with six fours while Quinton de Kock, who continues to have an excellent match, and Amla himself both had strike rates in excess of 90 percent.
There has certainly been compelling evidence in this match, which is borne out by their form on the sub-continent over the past seven years that the Proteas top order plays spin bowling as well as any other team in the world.
When they fielded for the second time the Proteas made a good start when Dale Steyn dismissed Upal Tharanga cheaply with the aid of a good catch by De Kock but they were unable to make further inroads as Kumar Sangakkara batted with the same freedom that De Villiers had shown earlier to finish the day unbeaten on 58 (89 balls, 7 fours and a six).
The stage is set for an intriguing finish to what has been an excellent Test match.