LAHORE Sept 15 (TNS): South African batting maestro Hashim Amla is overwhelmed by the tremendous response he and his team-mates of the ICC World XI squad have received during their landmark visit to Pakistan for the ongoing Independence Cup.
The buzzing crowd, during the first two Twenty20 matches of the Independence Cup between Pakistan and World XI here at the Gaddafi Stadium, chanted and cheered the right-hander’s name which is indeed an exceptionally rare and surprising occurrence for run-machine Amla.
Amla, one of the five South African cricketers who are part of the World XI squad, was greeted by fans at the stadium with loud cheers as he stepped in. The crowd cheered for him loudly even when he was steering the second T20 away from the home team on Wednesday night.
“I have never experienced that and I think most of the [World XI] players have their name shouted out by the crowd at one stage or the other, it was quite surprising.” Amla told media after the second T20 International in which he stroked a classy 55-ball unbeaten 72 studded with five fours and two sixes to help the World XI register a seven-wicket triumph over Sarfraz Ahmed-led Pakistan.
“The crowd support has been great here,” he added.
Amla said his experience of being in Lahore has been amazing and he is glad to be part of the World XI squad in Pakistan.
“The experience here has been fantastic, I speak for all the World XI players because we have been looked after really well,” he said. “The hospitality and warmth we received from the general public has been overwhelming, we are happy that we came,” added the 34-year-old former captain.
The veteran of 107 Tests and 156 ODIs said he and other South African players will share their respective experiences with Cricket South Africa after returning from Pakistan.
“I am sure when all five of us go back; the South African cricket board will probably ask us about our experience here. And we all will be honest that we had a great experience,” Amla said when a reporter asked if he would try to convince other players to visit Pakistan.
He further said, “But I am sure there are a lot of other things that are going to be in place. It is not up to us; we will give our feedback and leave it to our boards and everybody else to decide.”
Amla added, “The intensity of the Independence Cup matches is just as much as can be expected in any other international match.”
Meanwhile, Amla revealed his immense respect and admiration for Younis Khan, former Pakistan captain and the country’s highest run-scorer in Test cricket.
In an interview to the PCB, the 34-year-old opener said he has admired Younis throughout the legendary batsman’s career.
“For me, Younis has always been somebody I have admired throughout his career and throughout my career,” Amla said, pointing out that he has keenly followed the batsman’s innings up until Younis’ last Test against the West Indies earlier this year.
Amla said he was impressed with Younis’ work ethic and fitness.
“His work ethics always seem to be immaculate for somebody who has played international cricket for so long. To maintain that type of excellence in Test cricket is phenomenal,” Amla said about Younis, who became the first Pakistan batsman to score 10,000 Test runs before hanging up his boots in May this year.