Dale, Morne (Morkel), Vernon (Philander) and KG (Kagiso Rabada) are a step above in that regard.
But on Saturday he went some way towards redemption as his three for 90 from 31 overs enabled India to restrict the hosts to 269 for six.
Opener Aiden Markram (94), playing on his home ground, missed a well-deserved century by a whisker after he was caught behind off Ashwin (2-53).
That meant little, though, after Hardik Pandya swooped, turned and threw down the stumps at the non-striker's end to run out Amla and turn the day around.
The pair provided a solid start after South Africa won the toss and opted to bat first.
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The right-handed batsman has had a great start to his Test career and he continued to show that he has a bright future ahead of him with an assured display on Saturday.
Captain Faf du Plessis (63) registered his 17th fifty in Test cricket as South Africa added 66 runs to their overnight score of 269/6.
Amla survived a chance down the legside off Ishant Sharma with Patel getting both gloves to the ball but spilling the chance.
"We have to be as miserly as possible with the ball and try and dismiss them as quickly as we can".
South Africa had seemed set for a big first innings total when they reached 246 for three but some brilliant fielding and poor decision making combined to rattle their middle order and leave the honours even after the first day.
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The visitors will look to keep their hopes alive in the three-match series after the hosts took a 1-0 lead by registering a 72-run win in the first Test, which lasted only four days, in Cape Town.
After wickets fell in heaps in the first Test at Newlands, the pitch at SuperSport Park presented an entirely different proposition as batsmen ruled the roost.
"I like to think I have kept us in the game". His game is easy on the eye but he is able to get that scoreboard moving at a pace when he needs to. "I don't think we need to panic because of collapses". M Vijay misjudged a catch at fine leg, Parthiv Patel dropped Amla, and there was more than the odd occasion of infielders putting in hopeless dives to avoid long chases. Kohli has been the only constant in India's Test side since he took over from MS Dhoni in the middle of their series against Australia.
"Massively disappointed, " he said.
Ashwin found some joy instantly on the Centurion track and put Elgar through some uncomfortable moments before lunch.
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Further, crediting the county stint with Worcestershire for aiding him in this process, Ashwin said that he has forgotten the history of South Africa and all he wants to do is to stride forward.