The modest assassin: Hashim Amla's understated brilliance is unlike any other modern ODI great

Hashim AmlaHashim Amla became the fastest to score 4000 runs in ODIs. He achieved this during his century at Durban (Photo: BCCI)

On Sunday, Hashim Amla notched up a significant milestone as he went past 58 en route to scoring his 12th ODI ton. It was through a shot straight out of the Amla handbook. A nudge to the fine-leg region for a single. One where he watched the ball right onto his bat and cocked his supple wrists at the last moment in characteristic fashion.

With that, the 30-year-old Protea had crossed the 4000-run mark in his 81st ODI inning, making him the fastest to get there. In the process, he had beaten the previous record-holder, a certain Viv Richards, by a significant margin of seven innings. While the landmark did receive a loud cheer from the Kingsmead crowd, there was hardly a reaction from Amla.

No elation, no delight, not even the customary lifting of the bat to acknowledge the appreciation. You could have pardoned him, for he was in that Zen-like zone that he always seems to be in with bat in hand.

Later in the day, though, he would reveal the reason for his impassiveness. As Amla — in his studious avatar with the spectacles on — admitted to having been 'embarrassed' on setting a new mark, even his captain AB de Villiers, seated next to him, couldn't suppress a raised eyebrow.

"Fortunately I have met Sir Viv on a few occasions, so it makes it even more embarrassing. It would be befitting if he was ahead. He is the original master blaster," Amla said.

Amla was just being his usually humble and modest self. However, he wouldn't have been the only one in the cricket world surprised by the remarkable feat that had just been notched up. In a strange way, his ODI career, as illustrious as it's been, has never really gotten its due. Even while he has been routinely touted, and deservedly so, as one of the batting behemoths of the Test arena.

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