Amla buoyed by fightback

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To say South Africa were relieved after their batting collapse in Johannesburg on Thursday would be an understatement.

To say South Africa were relieved after their batting collapse in Johannesburg on Thursday would be an understatement.

After losing three quick wickets with their score on just 130 in reply to the 280 India posted, it was more a case of the Proteas thanking their lucky stars that Vernon Philander pulled through with the bat just hours after he took three wickets that prevented India from kicking-on from their overnight total.

Number three batsmen Hashim Amla confirmed that although his team need only 67 runs to match India's first innings total, their work had just started.

"We are not out of the woods yet, but we've made some sort of recovery," Amla said at the conclusion of the second day's play at the Wanderers

"But this is Test cricket and probably what makes it the best format is the ups and downs and how the game can change."

Amla emphasised that although the Proteas top-order had a lot of explaining to do for their below par performance, it was hardly the time to start manning panic stations.

Instead, he said that he and his fellow specialist batsmen will do their best to make amends when they get another chance in the second innings.

From a team perspective, Amla praised Philander for his contribution, and was quick to point out that it was not the first time he had saved their bacon.

"Ever since Vernon has come into the national team he has proven his worth as an amazing bowler and an extremely useful batsman – he has always considered himself an all-rounder.

"If you think back, at Lords he got 60-odd at a crucial time for us and today he batted really well – solidly – the wicket is providing something for the seamers and he held his own.

"Vernon – without a doubt – has become a very valuable player in our team."

On a more personal note, Amla could only smile when asked to explain his defenseless dismissal.

He had just settled at the wicket when he was bowled by Ishant Sharma for 36 when attempting to leave one he thought would miss his off stump.

To Sharma's credit, the previous two deliveries he bowled to Amla were well wide of off-stump and he did well to get the wicket-taking delivery to nip back.

Commenting on condition of the pitch he said: "With some of the dismissals I don't think the wicket had that much to do with it, I could have used my bat, or tried to.

"I don't think it was all pitch related, the guys bowled well and it is offering a lot for the seamers – the ball is swinging – so I guess it is a mixture of both.

"There are two types of leaves – good leaves and bad leaves – and that obviously was an example of a bad leave. Next time hopefully I'll play at those.

Asked if there were more dramatic ways to lose his wicket, Amla said: "There are worse ways to get out."

<i>@Michael_Mentz at the Wanderers in Johannesburg</i>

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