CAPE TOWN. – Which factor will be the most disconcerting for his supporters? Would it be his broken index finger, his 316 runs in the past 11 One Day Internationals or the 116 runs at an average of 16.85 in the test series against India?

None of the above if your counter-argument is: how many runs would any of the world’s premier batsmen have scored on sub-standard wickets against the wizard of India called Ravi Ashwin who struck 31 times?

And not many observers realized that a resilient Hashim Amla spent 500 minutes at the crease in two innings in the final two tests in his committed efforts to stone-wall South Africa to safety in India?

“During the first three test matches, one has to put things in context. Both teams struggled to get substantial totals above 300. In fact, the best score produced by India in the first three tests was 215,” said Amla.

He said Stiaan van Zyl batted superbly to compile 37, but that score won’t get the value it deserves.

“It was very difficult all round (in the test series in India), but it takes just one knock to kick-start good totals. We need to start off well in the test series against England and build the confidence.

“In the last two matches of the Indian series, we were trying to save games. So defence took precedence, and we did not utilize some scoring options in the interests of the team,” said Amla.

In Nagpur, his vigil of 219 minutes at the crease yielded 39 runs and his defiance lasted 167 balls.

It was last chance saloon for South Africa to stave off defeat while Amla and Faf du Plessis were at the crease. When Amla was dismissed, it had a domino effect and the lower order capitulated against the slow bowling maestros Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

Amla was equally brave-hearted in Delhi, as he spent 289 minutes to compile 25 in testing conditions before the hosts romped to a 337-run win.

The South African captain’s amazing conversion rate of 23 tons in 88 tests revolves around his marvellous powers of concentration.

Asked if he is one innings away from reviving the form that saw him hammering 311 in a test innings against England and 253 against India, Amla answered: “Every batter in the world that goes through a lean patch is always one innings away from recapturing his form.”

Amla gets a perfect opportunity to boost his confidence while batting at number three for the Cape Cobras in their Sunfoil Series match against the VKB Knights at PPC Newlands. The match starts on Thursday.

Asked about how South Africa hopes to achieve home dominance against England, Amla said it is quite simple. The bowlers were able to take 20 wickets in most of the tests against India, but the batsmen needs to string together substantial partnerships in order to transfer pressure to England.

Amla revealed that Russell Domingo, the South African coach, always wanted him to stay at number three, but he briefly opted for the number-four position in the hope to lengthen the batting order.

He briefly held the position as the number one batsman in the world in both One Day Internationals and tests while opening in the former and occupying the number-three position in white uniform. “I think the key at number three has been that I enjoy batting in the middle for as long as possible,” he said.

Does Amla hope to emulate any other all-time great during his life-time? No, he says, he just wants to make the most of his own gifts as naturally and as originally as possible.

As a younger batsman, he revered both Brian Lara and Steve Waugh. In Lara’s case, it was because of his flair and flamboyance, and for the way in which he could dispatch deliveries off the back foot through extra cover to the boundary.

His admiration for Waugh was based on his ability to pull his team out of the mire through sheer tenacity while batting at number four or five.

“But every one of us has his own way of doing things.”

Typically understated Amla, the South African captain, when asked about the plaster on his left index finger, stated in matter-of-fact style: “The finger is broken, but I don’t think it would bother me much (when I’m batting).”

And even the discomfort or pain in his finger might disappear of Amla hammers his 45th first-class century in the Sunfoil Series match between the Cape Cobras and the VKB Knights at PPC Newlands during the weekend.