Destructive Heinrich Klaasen leads the way for SA stars at IPL

Heinrich Klaasen watches one of his eight sixes fly into the crowd for Sunrisers Hyderabad against Kolkata Knight Riders. Photo: IANS

Heinrich Klaasen watches one of his eight sixes fly into the crowd for Sunrisers Hyderabad against Kolkata Knight Riders. Photo: IANS

Published Mar 25, 2024

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OBAKENG MELETSE

The 17th edition of the Indian Premier League got under way last Friday, and it hasn’t taken long for the world’s biggest T20 tournament to catch fire.

And at the centre of it was big-hitting South African Heinrich Klaasen who carried on from where he left off in the SA20 competition.

Klaasen lived up to his reputation as one of the world’s best T20 batters with his knock of 63 off 29 balls for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, which included eight sixes at a strike rate of 217.

But it was in vain as the Sunrisers went down by four wickets to the Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Saturday.

Needing 64 runs to win with 20 balls remaining, KKR would have been quietly confident about their chances of getting their season off to a good start.

But Klaasen let loose from that point, moving from 22 off 17 balls to 55 off 25.

Mitchell Starc, the most expensive buy at the pre-tournament auction, bowled the wrong over at the wrong time as he was hit for three sixes in the 18th, with Klaasen on his way to the third half-century of his IPL career.

The Sunrisers went to the final over needing only 13 runs, but a Harshit Rana slower ball got the better of Klaasen, who was caught by Suyash Sharma at short third man, ending the Sunrisers’ hopes of victory.

Aiden Markram and Marco Jansen were the other two South Africans involved in the match, both for the Sunrisers.

Markram came into the tournament having led IPL sister franchise the Sunrisers Eastern Cape to their second SA20 title in a row last month.

The right-handed batter got himself in, but didn’t last long and was out for 18 as he tried to up the scoring rate, with his side needing 12 runs an over to get to their target.

This was his first outing after he was replaced by Pat Cummins as the skipper.

Jansen opened the bowling for the Sunrisers but struggled to settle in after an assault by Phil Salt, which saw his first over go for 20 runs. Jansen would end up bowling three overs, which cost him 40 runs.

Elsewhere, Kagiso Rabada’s Punjab Kings beat Tristan Stubbs’ Delhi Capitals by four wickets in Mullanpur on Saturday.

Both South Africans had quiet outings, with Rabada picking up 1-36 in his four overs.

Stubbs never got going in his innings of just 5 runs, and will need to adjust quickly as competition for places is high.

Faf du Plessis’ knock of 35 was not enough as Royal Challengers Bengaluru lost to the Chennai Super Kings by six wickets in Friday’s opener in Chennai.

Du Plessis looked at his fluent best, hitting crisp shots through the covers, but he sliced a Mustafizur Rahman delivery and was caught by Rachin Ravindra.

Lucknow Super Giants lost by 20 runs to the Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur yesterday, and SA opener Quinton de Kock’s poor run of form continued as he was out caught for 4.

De Kock struck Trent Boult down the ground for a boundary before he hit the ball straight into SA paceman Nandré Burger’s bucket hands while attempting to play his favourite clip off the legs.

Burger was the impact substitute for Shimron Hetmyer, and it didn’t take long before he made his presence felt, bowling an over with deliveries in excess of 145km/h to Super Giants captain KL Rahul, who struggled to deal with the pace and bounce.

Burger would get his maiden IPL wicket after Ayush Badoni mistimed one to Jos Buttler at mid-off.

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