Veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis sent a strong message to the selectors ahead of the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in September, thumping his fifth career half-century against India on Friday night.
Playing his first T20 International in nearly two years, Kallis opened the batting and anchored South Africa's innings at the Wanderers.
He said afterwards that he still had plenty to offer after being criticised in the past for not being suited to the 'smash and grab' short format.
“I perhaps struggled when the game first came out a couple years back,” Kallis said.
“I've put a lot of work in to try and succeed at this level.
“I've always enjoyed the T20 format, so I've put in a lot of hard work, and it's nice when those rewards start paying off.
“I've also had a few years of IPL 1/8Indian Premier League 3/8 and I learnt to play T20 cricket, so I enjoy this format and hopefully I can stick around a bit longer and make a contribution if I'm picked for the T20 World Cup.”
Opening the batting in the one-off T20, held in his honour, Kallis anchored the innings as the hosts posted a massive 219/4
after they lost the toss and were sent in to bat.
India, in reply, reached 71 without loss after 7.5 overs, before the rain came down and the players were hauled off the field, eventually giving the Proteas an 11-run win on the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Kallis, 36, said he had made a number of changes to his game, adjusting to the T20 format, and cited the IPL in making the biggest difference to his approach.
“The biggest change was a mental one, and probably a few technical changes,” he said.
“In cricket you're always taught to get as close to the ball as possible and in this format you actually have to give yourself a bit of space, so it was just a matter of working out where I could get a few extra scoring options.”
The rain had been a disappointment in his benefit match, Kallis admitted, after India put up an early fight in their hefty chase.
“It was disappointing, but overall I think it's been a fantastic day,” he said.
“The crowds have been brilliant to come out and support us.
“We played really well to get to 1/8nearly 3/8 220 and it was pretty tight when the rain came down, but I still felt we were ahead of the game.
“Maybe it would have been an exciting finish, so it was sad that it ended that way.”
Kallis was the only member of the Proteas T20 team who had played in a 1-0 Test series victory over New Zealand, and fatigue was a big challenge for the veteran player after he arrived back in the country on Wednesday.
“My first priority was not to fall asleep with the jetlag,” he said.
“It's always nice to get some runs and play in the green and gold and especially on a day like today, it was really special that I could contribute in that way.” – Sapa