Amla hails South Africa's 'selfless' blocking in defeat

NEW DELHI: South Africa captain Hashim Amla hailed his team's uncharacteristically dogged batting in the fourth and final test against India even though it was not enough to avert their third loss in the four-match series.

Set a daunting 481-run victory target, South Africa resorted to extraordinary stonewalling at Ferozeshah Kotla, blocking over after over in their desperate bid to prolong the contest.

Amla, usually a fluent scorer, took 46 balls to get off the mark and toiled for 288 minutes for his 23 runs.

AB de Villiers, who holds the record for the fastest 50, 100 and 150 in one-dayers, also displayed another side of his swashbuckling batsmanship when he batted for some six hours, much of it with a swollen thumb, for his 43 runs.

"We kind of felt that was the best way to save the game for us," Amla told reporters as he defended his team's batting approach in their 337-run defeat.

"It would have been easy for our batters to say 'let's just go and have some fun and get some runs under our belts with those guys in catching positions'.

"That gains nothing, especially when you are playing for the team, playing for the country trying to save a test match."

In a remarkable display of dour batting, South Africa scored 143 runs in as many overs before collapsing in the very next ball in their second innings.

Faf du Plessis took 53 balls to get off the mark, while left-arm Indian spinner Ravindra Jadeja sent down 17 consecutive maidens overs.

"Nobody wants to block, you want to score runs as a batsman," Amla said.

"The need of the time was to try and bat as long as we can, take as many risky shots out of the equation, try and draw the test match.

"To block full tosses and half-volleys is unnatural for batting. But when it is done, you kind of appreciate the determination that somebody shows.

"AB was probably a prime example in his innings  to try and knuckle down for the team's sake. There was no selfishness involved to do what he has done for the team."

Amla endured a wretched India tour himself, managing 118 runs from seven innings, a far cry from his 2010 India tour when he topped the scorers' list.

"Not being able to score runs in the series certainly was disappointing for me. As a batting unit as a whole, we just did not manage to get the runs on the board," said Amla whose team did not go beyond 185 in the spin-dominated series.

"2010 was a wonderful year for me when I was here. But sometimes cricket goes that way, so I am not going to look too deep into it."