Hashim Amla once again gave ample proof why is he rated as one of the leading batsmen in world cricket. The South African right-hander, who is ranked second in the ICC ODI rankings, kept South Africa's hopes alive in the Champions Trophy with a gritty half-century against Pakistan.
Electing to bat first, South Africa's openers found it difficult to get going against Pakistan's left-arm pace duo of Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan, who extracted some early help from the pitch.
Amla was lucky to profit from a dropped catch when his score was seven and he made most of that lifeline.
The right-hander took his time to get his eye in as South Africa tried to avoid losing early wickets. Once he found his rhythm he kept the scoreboard moving with singles and twos, with the odd boundary in between.
The best part about his batting was that he went after Pakistan's premier spinner Saeed Ajmal, against whom he played a few reverse sweeps to disturb his rhythm. It proved crucial as the bowler struggled in his first spell.
He brought up his half-century off 65 balls and ensured his team was in the running for a competitive total.
Amla slammed 81 from 97 balls, with the help of nine boundaries. He laid the foundation with two good partnerships at the top of the order, putting on 53 runs for the opening with Colin Ingram (20), followed by a 69-run stand for the second wicket with Faf du Plessis, who made 28.
Despite South Africa messing up in the final few overs, they ended up on 234 for nine in their 50 overs which proved more than enough in the final analysis as their bowlers bundled out Pakistan for 167.
Image:South Africa's Hashim Amla hits out
Photograph: Philip Brown/Reuters