Heinrich Klaasen, the replacement for the injured Quinton de Kock as wicketkeeper, really grabbed his opportunity as he blasted a tremendous 81 off 46 balls to lead South Africa to a four-wicket win with 10 balls to spare in the second T20 against India in Cuttack on Sunday.
Klaasen’s remarkable innings came after seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar had the Proteas batting reeling as they went in search of a moderate target of just 149.
South Africa won the first T20 as they chased down a record target of 212, but Sunday’s two-paced pitch at the Barabati Stadium really tested the batsmen on both sides, with inconsistent bounce and providing seam movement off the surface.
Bhuvneshwar undermined the Proteas chase from the start, using his remarkable skills to take 3/10 in his first three overs. Reeza Hendricks (4) and Rassie van der Dussen (1) were both bowled by deliveries that nipped back through the gate, while Dwaine Pretorius (4) was well-caught by Avesh Khan at deep backward square-leg off a knuckle ball.
Bhuvneshwar returned when just a handful of runs were needed and bowled Wayne Parnell for 1 to end with 4/13.
Captain Temba Bavuma scored a defiant 35 off 30 balls to begin the recovery with Klaasen, who came in due to De Kock’s finger injury suffered in the first game. The pair added 64 in seven overs before Bavuma was bowled by spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
But Klaasen charged on, hitting seven fours and five sixes, with David Miller doing his usual efficient job at the death to finish the run-chase with 20 not out off 15 balls.
Nortje & Pretorius the dearest
South Africa had won the toss and once again elected to chase, with Kagiso Rabada yet again delivering up front as he dismissed Ruturaj Gaikwad (1) in the first over and went on to bowl his four overs for an exceptionally economical 15 runs.
Ishan Kishan (34) and Shreyas Iyer (40) added 45 for the second wicket in six overs, before fast bowler Anrich Nortje had Kishan out hooking a bouncer and Pretorius surprised Shreyas with a delivery that stood up outside off stump and induced a catch behind.
Nortje and Pretorius were the dearest of the Proteas bowlers, however, conceding 36 and 40 runs respectively, and it was left-armer Parnell who backed up Rabada most effectively, bowling the dangerous Hardik Pandya for nine and conceding just 23 runs in his four overs.
Stalwart Dinesh Karthik hit 30 not out off 21 balls at the death to lift India to 148/6, which seemed a tricky target before Klaasen’s phenomenal innings.