Heinrich Klaasen starred for the Proteas vs India on Wednesday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Heinrich Klaasen reckoned Wednesday night’s effort in helping the Proteas defeat India by six wickets in the second T20 international was a lot better and more meaningful than his Man-of-the-Match performance in the fourth ODI against the same team.

“This wins,” said Klaasen when asked to compare his two match-winning performances in the last two weeks. “This is my home ground – it’s something you dream about as a kid, to win a game on your home ground for your country.”

Klaasen scored 69 off 39 balls to help South Africa knock off India’s target of 189 with eight balls to spare.

The other stars for the home team were captain JP Duminy, who finished off the game with a pair of sixes and ended unbeaten on 64 (40 balls, 4x4, 3x6), and Klaasen’s franchise teammate Junior Dala, who claimed 2/28 with the ball, including the prized scalp of India’s in-form captain Virat Kohli.

Klaasen had also played a starring role in the ‘Pink ODI’, helping the Proteas claim their only win in that ODI series when he made an unbeaten 43 at the Wanderers.

“JP was the key factor to my whole innings,” Klaasen said of the South African captain. “He told me after the second over when I was out there that the over had to go for 10, and that just allowed me to play my normal game and take the bowlers on.”

India had notched up 188/4, thanks mainly to an unbeaten fifth-wicket partnership of 98 between Manish Pandey (79*, 48 balls, 6x4, 3x6) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni 52 (28 balls, 4x4, 3x6).

And while the Proteas had started well in their pursuit, scoring 50/2 in the powerplay, they were constantly facing a required rate of 10 an over.

It also started raining, bringing Duckworth-Lewis calculations into the game and raising the tension even more.

Klaasen admitted that he and Duminy started focusing on the D/L target, which proved a helpful aid.

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“It drizzled quite hard at stages, and credit to the umpires for keeping us on. We tried to keep up with Duckworth-Lewis, and I said to JP that we needed to stay one boundary ahead under Duckworth-Lewis.

“The way we batted tonight is actually the way we should go, keep up with the Duckworth-Lewis and keep up with the rate – that gave us targets, when to go, when not to go – maybe that’s the way to go from now on,” Klaasen added.

The Titans star put his stamp on the match in the 13th over, bowled by Yuzvendra Chahal – one of India’s two wrist-spinners who’ve bamboozled the South Africans in the limited-overs matches – by smashing a pair of sixes off the first two balls as part of an over in which the Proteas scored 23 runs.

Chahal ended with ugly figures of 0/64 in four overs.

“The way JP told me to go takes the fear out of the game, and then it’s very important to keep a calm head.

“There was a stage where I was swinging quite hard, and then I said to myself, ‘Take one and relax’.

“Once you get the momentum, it’s important to keep that momentum, especially when chasing 10 an over. “I fancied my chances against the leggie – when I got the first two boundaries, I reckoned it was the big over.”

Wednesday’s victory gives the South Africans a much-needed lift in confidence after a difficult couple of weeks during the which they were dominated in the ODIs, and then executed awfully in the opening T20 International at the Wanderers.

The deciding match of the series will be played at Newlands on Saturday.

IOL Sport

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