JOHANNESBURG – It was a night to remember for Proteas wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen as he, alongside captain JP Duminy, helped South Africa comfortably chase down India's 188/4 in the second T20 International in Centurion on Wednesday, with six wickets in hand and eight balls to spare.
The result levelled the series with one game left to play.
The two came together at a precarious 38/2 at the end of the fifth over and added 93 runs in just 8.1 overs. Duminy stayed until the end to score 64 not out in 40 balls with four fours and three sixes, while Klaasen, who scored his maiden T20I half-century, was particularly aggressive against Yuzvendra Chahal, who conceded 51 runs from his first three overs.
Batting at his home ground at SuperSport Park, Klaasen scored runs all around the wicket on his way to a 30-ball 69, with three fours and seven sixes.
“It's really special, at my home ground – it was something I dreamt of as a kid,” said Klaasen, the Player of the Match, afterwards.
Klaasen used the switch-hit to perfection, hitting Chahal for two sixes over the backward point region. “You’ve just got to put the bowler under pressure and show them your skills. I've got a cool, calm head at the moment and I'm pleased with my cricket over the last year and a half,” he explained.
After Klaasen was dismissed with South Africa still needing 58 runs from just under seven overs, Duminy took the Indian bowlers on and, after David Miller was sent back cheaply, put together 48 runs for the fifth wicket with Farhaan Behardien to take his team home.
“At the toss, we spoke about this being a semi-final and taking the series to Newlands. We kept our composure with the bat after taking early wickets,” said Duminy.
With mild drizzle accompanying the match almost all the way, it was quite difficult for the bowlers at all times. “I just thought the way Klaasen came and played with freedom, we kept up with the rate. It was raining pretty similarly in our innings as well but I was comfortable when we were ahead of the rate,” said Duminy.
“They (India) came at us, but the key for us was taking the wickets and we got three up front. To chase down 189 is a pretty good effort. It'll be nice to play in front of my home crowd (in the next match) and hopefully, we put up a spectacle there.”
Virat Kohli said that the game was a difficult one for his bowlers, especially Chahal, as the weather made it hard for them to grip the ball. “It was a tough one for the bowlers. We were looking at 175 with the loss of early wickets. Manish (Pandey) and (Suresh) Raina batted well and then Manish and MS (Dhoni) got us to 190 [188/4]. I thought it was a winning total,” he said.
“Then the weather made it hard for the bowlers. Until the 12th over it was fine, but the drizzle made it bad.”
Kohli also credited South Africa for taking calculated risks and handling the conditions better.
“South Africa took calculated risks, credit to them,” said Kohli. “We didn't really have problems with the conditions, it was a constant drizzle, was fine to play. We expect them to show a fight and show some heart and they deserved to win tonight.”
African News Agency (ANA)