Amla relishes home captaincy debut

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Proteas captain Hashim Amla is relishing the opportunity of leading the national side for the first time in a Test match on home soil, when the series against the West Indies start in Centurion on Wednesday.

Amla took over the role as South African captain from Graeme Smith earlier this year following the opener's retirement from cricket.

The bearded batsman led the South Africans to a 1-0 series victory in Sri Lanka in what was his first series as skipper, before beating Zimbabwe in a one-off Test.

"Captaining at home for the first time is something special. Having made my captaincy debut overseas there wasn't as much hype, which was maybe a good thing," said Amla on Tuesday.

"We knew when Graeme and Jacques [Kallis] retired we'd go through a transition period.

"But now I'm more settled in the captaincy, and having been away from home for quite a while… so to be at home to give the fans hopefully some victories will be great."

With middle order batsman JP Duminy ruled out of the match, Stiaan van Zyl is expected to make his Test debut and Amla is supremely confident that the 27-year-old Capetonian will impress on the international stage.

"There's a very good chance he'll make his debut. Stiaan's been in the system for quite some time. He's a real quality player, and if he gets his chance I'm sure he'll do well," Amla continued.

West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin admitted his side hasn't performed well with the bat of late but has taken it upon himself to facilitate change.

"Our batting hasn't been up to scratch in the last few years, and as the captain I like to lead from the front," said Ramdin.

To compound the Windies' problems, they go into the series without two of their best batsmen – Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo.

"It's important for us to forget about that, not having Chris Gayle in our top order has been a blow,' Ramdin continued.

"We're going to put that behind us, but we'll just take it one step at a time and give it our best."

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