Such is the way of modern cricket. No grinding it out for hours on end to salvage a Test match.
Instead it only needs to last five overs. But when seven of those 30 balls gets dispatched into the Highveld air and on to the SuperSport Park grass embankments and a further three get drilled along the lush outfield for a few more boundaries, the outcome is 69 breathtaking runs that not only change the course of a young man’s career, but also lift the spirits of a nation that has simply become fed up watching their team being thumped.
Klaasen swept, reverse- swept, slog-swept and also drove, conjuring up shots that helped South Africa set up a T20I series-finale at Newlands tonight.
Considering the pounding the Proteas took in the ODI series from this uber-confident India team and in the first T20, it needed something special to get the home fires burning again.
“It is no surprise he has stepped up,” Proteas batsman Farhaan Behardien told the media yesterday. “He’s that type of character. He is a competitor. That’s the way he is. Similar competitiveness to AB, Faf ... guys who want to pick a fight with the opposition. He is not scared of that.”
According to Behardien, it is not only Klaasen who has the bit between his teeth.
Paceman Junior Dala brought about the early breakthroughs at SuperSport Park, which included the mega-scalp of India captain Virat Kohli.
Equally, opener Reeza Hendricks has come into the team and made an immediate impact at the top of the order.
“Junior has been a consistent performer for the last couple of seasons. Good to see him get a go. Reeza was the highest run-scorer in the local T20, so he comes off that tournament with a lot of confidence.
“That’s what you’ll now see at Newlands. These guys carry no baggage from the ODI series. They are fearless cricketers. Guys who bowl 140km/* , guys who are smashing it out of the park.”
Although Cape Town is experiencing its worst drought in over a century, the forecast is for drizzle throughout today.
This is significant for South Africa have won just two out of the eight white-ball tussles with India this summer, but with both being affected by rain.
While this may be a good omen for the home team, the greater good is that South Africa’s batsmen have played with greater freedom when there have been dark clouds hovering above.
Behardien believes the hosts need to maintain this positive attitude at the crease, but may need to make some slight modifications with the series moving south.
“In the Highveld you can hit the ball and it sails for six. I think we have to be slightly smarter here,” he said.
“At the coast, the ball doesn’t travel as far. We need to maybe have a slightly flatter trajectory when hitting the spinners or the seamers. Maybe twos will be a little more important. The field looks quite big from the middle strip.
“The Newlands pitch has been a good pitch over the last couple of seasons, so I don’t think it will change too much. Maybe one or two mis-hits won’t go for six; they will be caught on the boundary.
“The plans will still generally stay the same like I said, Newlands is not too far off a Highveld wicket at the moment.”
No Indian team has come to South Africa and achieved the type of success Kohli and his blue-clad crew have experienced on this tour. But after seven weeks of intense battles, and back where it all started, Behardien and this new group of Proteas would like nothing more than to enjoy the last bragging rights.
“It is a big game, it being 1-1. The Cape Town faithful will hopefully come out and support us. It’s a final, a chance to win a series against a very strong side. It is a massive opportunity for us to turn it around.
“To win two out of the three series against a strong Indian unit, that’d be a big plus. We went over to India, we beat them in the ODIs 3-2, in the T20 series 2-0, and we lost the Test. It’s basically a reversal but we now have the opportunity to go one up on them. Everybody is upbeat,” he said.
Squads for Newlands
SOUTH AFRICA: JJ Smuts, Reeza Hendricks, Jean-Paul Duminy (capt), David Miller, Farhaan Behardien, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Dane Paterson, Junior Dala, Tabraiz Shamsi, Aaron Phangiso, Christiaan Jonker
INDIA: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli (capt), Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Dinesh Karthik, Axar Patel, Lokesh Rahul.
START: 6pm TV: SS2, Sabc3, Radio: SabcRadio2000