It was a phenomenal innings by the best batsman in South Africa, is how Ashwell Prince described the 189 crafted in 482 minutes by Hashim Amla as the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras assembled a gigantic 567 for six on Friday on the final day of the first Sunfoil Series match of the season against the VKB Knights at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein.
The match ended in a stalemate. The WSB Cape Cobras were dismissed for 159 in their first innings and the VKB Knights hammered 623 for four in reply. In the second innings, the Cobras were defiant and answered the call by Prince prior to the season to show their mettle and character under pressure.
“There are two types of centuries that count – those who win you games and those that draw you matches and all three of our centurions – Hashim, Aviwe Mgijima and Justin Ontong – helped us to achieve that draw,” Prince, the WSB Cape Cobras coach, said.
Ontong struck 16 fours and two sixes in his 128 off 193 balls. Amla blasted 22 fours and three sixes in his 189 while spending eight hours and two minutes in the middle. It was the perfect preparation for the first Test against Bangladesh at Senwes Park.
Mgijima toiled for 238 minutes in compiling 112 which included 13 fours and a six.
Prince said Ontong was very disappointed at holing out at cover in the first innings and was determined to set the record straight. He came to the crease after the fall of two quick wickets and showed his experience in a match-saving partnership of 251 with Amla. “You cannot defend, defend, defend for two days. And that is what Justin and Hashim knew. They rotated the strike so well and demonstrated how experienced they are,” he remarked.
The coach applauded Amla for his composure and how he controlled the tempo of the innings. He said he turned half decent deliveries into scoring opportunities and also underlined why he is rated one of the best players of spin in the world.
“You know how it is with test players. They are not happy with getting out for half-centuries. And after his 50 in the first innings, Hashim wanted to make a big one. It was the Amla of old.
“He was relaxed at the crease. There was no stress and no anxiety,” he said.
Prince applauded Mgijima as a supreme team man and one of the most popular players in the dressing room.
His first first-class century was the result of two winters of extremely hard work, Prince said.
“Last season he batted at number seven, and when you are playing with the lower order, you might manufacture shots here and there. But this time he was playing at number six and knew there were still players below him who can perform with the bat,” Prince added.
Mgijima was understandably elated about his first first-class ton, but chose to congratulate the team rather than reflect too extensively on his century.
“We showed a lot of character today (Friday), something we discussed at length before the season started.
“We wanted to bat for the full day, and I was determined to stay there until we had saved the day.
“When I was on 96, I struck the ball past cover off Werner Coetsee to get to 100. I was not that demonstrative. I was batting with Kyle Verreynne at the time. I went back into my shell, because I did not want to lose my wicket and allow them to skittle us out,” Mgijima said.
“The whole team must be commended for the way we showed character after the first day. We came back nicely with the ball and the batsmen showed they can push on and do big things when required,” the centurion and WSB Cape Cobras’ player of 2016/2017 added.
“The batting performance in the second innings will boost our confidence ahead of our next match against the Warriors in Port Elizabeth,” an upbeat Prince said.