By the time he passed 50 yesterday, a Hashim Amla century had a certain inevitability about it.

New Zealand aren't the first side to discover that if you give South Africa's new test captain a second life - in fact three altogether at Bay Oval yesterday - you'll pay.

So it was Amla completed his 16th ODI century, but just his first against New Zealand in his eighth one-day innings against them.

He finished on 119 off 135 balls to provide the bulk of South Africa's 282 for nine.

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Watching Amla in action is a treat.

His feet don't always move as much as the text books would advise. But his eye is good, his timing immaculate when he is on, he works the angles expertly and he operates with a degree of serenity.

New Zealand let him off at seven and 12, the first an edge off Tim Southee between wicketkeeper and first slip, the second when Dan Vettori at fine leg lost sight of a skied hook off the same, luckless bowler and the ball found earth 15m away.

Where New Zealand have preached the importance of taking opportunities - more so in terms of pushing claims for World Cup selection, but equally applicable to basic chance-grabbing in the field - they fluffed those lines yesterday.

On Tuesday in the opening one-dayer, Amla was painstaking over 39. He usually scores at a strike rate of around 89 per 100 balls in ODIs. That day he spent 78 balls in the middle.

Yesterday he kept the singles going, drove decisively through the offside, cut adroitly and once under way you sensed he had things well in hand.

Amla, 31, ranks No3 in ODI batting, No6 in the test game, which, when watching him doing his job, can make you wonder who are above him.

He was recently named test captain, only the second non-white leader of his country, after Ashwell Prince, who was in charge twice in Sri Lanka in 2006.

He is the only South African to have scored a test triple century, against England in 2012.

Amla is the fastest batsman to 2000 (40 innings), 3000 (57 innings) and 4000 (81 innings) ODI runs, significantly brisker than a cluster of noted rapid scorers.

One of his strong points is not over-burdening himself with batting clutter. He has a realisation that there are times to be measured -- Tuesday, on a ground having its first big game and after a month off, being an example. On other days, when seeing the ball like a pumpkin, away he goes.

Former England opening great Geoff Boycott once said of Amla that he bats in a way that gives very little hope for the bowlers.

Amla appreciates the value of not getting caught up too much in mind games.

"For me, that's what it is; try and keep it as simple as possible," Amla said.

"Although they [tests and ODIs] are vastly different formats, the basics are almost the same.

"Batting up front in places like New Zealand, South Africa and England you have to be a lot tighter. That's where test discipline has to come in," he said this week.

The range of conditions to be found around the cricket world determine how he will set out his stall.

"Sometimes you're chasing 300 and you have to play a bit more positively.

"But a cover drive in one day and test cricket is the same, so I try not to tinker too much."

Amla is not one for the big celebration, as seen at his 100th run yesterday. A congratulatory word from his partner, a brief, undemonstrative wave of the bat, then back to business.

Which he does better than most in the game.