Of Indian origin; his grandparents migrated to South Africa from Gujarat, Hashim Amla is one of the finest stroke-players in the game. His supple wrists are a delight to watch, especially when he stands up tall to play those forcing shots off the back-foot, or when he is tucking it off his pads nonchalantly through the on side.
He was appointed captain of his state side - the Nashua Dolphins - at the tender age of 21 and soon impressed everyone with his demeanor. Earmarked as a special talent right from his young age, he led the South African side at the 2002 Under-19 World Cup and made his test debut against India in 2004-05.
Questions were asked about his mental frame-work when his talent didn't translate into runs. His technique was thought to be suspect and a couple of failures only reinforced that belief. He was dropped from the side after the initial setbacks and went back to his domestic side and amassed runs before forcing his way back. He made a career saving 149 against New Zealand at Cape Town which ensured a draw.
That knock gave him the self belief that he could succeed at the international level and runs flowed from his blade. An unbelievable tour of India where he was dismissed only once in 3 innings even as the Indians threw everything at him, proved to the world that Amla was the next big thing in world cricket. His run-tally of 490 runs in three innings at an average of 490 in a two test match series was just simply out-of-the-world stuff.
Despite his magnificent record in tests, he was always thought to be unsuitable to to the shorter formats of the game, but he proved that wrong by making two hundreds when the Proteas toured the West Indies in 2010 for a 5 match ODI series. That performance ensured a permanent place in the South African ODI squad and he was given a chance in the T20Is as well.
After Smith resigned from the ODI captaincy when the 2011 World Cup ended, Amla was expected to succeed him, but he chose not to assume the captaincy mantle. He was named the vice-captain of the ODI side and will assist AB de Villiers.
Amla's immense concentration skills and his never ending thirst for runs has ensured that he is the natural successor to the big scoring Jacques Kallis in the South African line-up. A calm and a down to earth person, Amla shies away from the limelight and is known to be an intensely private person.
Interesting facts about Amla: His elder brother, Ahmed, is also a professional cricketer, having made his debut two years earlier, and currently captains the Dolphins.
Upon his Test debut, he successfully requested that alcohol-promoting logos not be shown on his merchandise and playing gear.
Dean Jones called him a terrorist on air inadvertently, assuming that the broadcasters had cut to an Ad break when Amla took a catch, but they hadn't and it cost him his job. Later he apologised to Amla.
Amla is a devout Muslim and has the best beard in the game at the present moment.