Johannesburg: When South African Hashim Amla vies with India`s Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Graeme Swann of England for the ICC Cricketer of the Year Award in Bengaluru on October 6, he would complete a full circle in the land from where his forebears came.
Amla, South Africa`s first national squad member of Indian origin, is descended from a Gujarati migrant family who arrived in South Africa a century ago.
It was also in India that Amla proved himself by making his international debut at Eden Gardens, Kolkata in 2004.
Playing in India seems to have driven him to even greater heights as he scored an unbeaten 159 against the hosts in Chennai amid searing conditions in 2008.
But the best was still to come.
On February 7, 2010, at the first Test during South Africa`s tour of India at Nagpur, Amla scored an undefeated 253, his personal best and the highest by a South African at number three position as well as the highest by a South African against India.
This performance also got him the Man of the Match award and gave South Africa an innings victory.
Perhaps recalling his debut at the same venue during the next Test in Eden Gardens, Kolkata, Amla scored centuries in both innings, including an unbeaten 127 in the final innings as India bowled out them to level the series, remaining the only South African not to be dismissed.
Despite his side`s loss, Amla won not only the Man of the Match award again, but also Man of the Series award for his performance throughout the two-match series.
He scored 494 runs, having only been dismissed once and retaining an average of 494, the second highest batting average ever in a Test series, after Wally Hammond of England.
Amla has also been nominated together with his team mate Dale Steyn as well as Sehwag and Tendulkar in the Test Player of the Year category.
Amla has emerged as a strong role model for youth, especially South African Muslims, after he was lauded for his insistence on not wearing the logo of South African squad sponsor Castle Lager, because liquor is prohibited by his