Heinrich Klaasen scored 81 off 46 balls as the Proteas beat India in the second T20I to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
Cape Town — The Proteas have stressed the point that this team does possess “superstars”, but they do manage to unearth an unlikely hero each time when it’s needed most.
On Sunday evening in Cuttack it was Heinrich Klaasen’s chance to don the cloak. The Titans captain was only drafted into the starting line-up due to Quinton de Kock’s injured finger, but he was soon cast into the premier role and delivered superbly with 81 off just 46 balls to power the Proteas to a 2-0 series.
After the Delhi run-feast it was the turn of the bowlers to take centre-stage with South Africa under pressure at 29/3 within the first Powerplay in pursuit of India’s 148/6.
Bhuvuneshwar Kumar (4/13) had ripped through the Proteas’ top-order with the removal of Reeza Hendricks, Dwaine Pretorius and Rassie van der Dussen when Klaasen walked to the crease.
But with skipper Temba Bavuma an assured presence at the other end, the pair combined confidently to change the momentum of the innings with a 64-run partnership off only 41 balls for the fourth wicket.
And when Bavuma (35 off 30 balls) was dismissed with 56 runs still required, Klaasen kept on coming at India to ensure there would be no late mishaps.
He fully deserved to be there when the winning runs were hit, but fell with only four runs required leaving David Miller (20 not out off 15 balls) to once again provide the finishing touches.
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South Africa’s bowling unit, spearheaded by the irrepressible Kagiso Rabada, had earlier restricted the hosts to 148/6. Rabada charged out of the starting blocks by removing Ruturaj Gaikwad in the very first over.
It set the tone for the evening with Proteas captain Bavuma assessing the conditions splendidly with the rotation of his pacemen during the six Powerplay overs.
Wayne Parnell was handed the new ball at the other end and continued his good form since returning to the Proteas T20I side by offering Rabada solid support.
Although Ishan Kishan threatened to take the attack to the Proteas – just as he did at Delhi last week – by attacking the short ball in particular through three sixes and two boundaries, the dashing left-hander was dismissed for 34 off 21 balls just when his innings was gaining momentum.
The Proteas maintained their stranglehold from that moment on with wickets falling at regular intervals. Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj chipped in with the crucial scalp of Indian captain Rishabh Pant before Parnell, Dwaine Pretorius and Anrich Nortjé all chipped away at the Indian batting unit.
It was not only before Dinesh Karthik and Harshal Patel at the backend of the innings found their hitting range that India managed to get on top of the South African bowling unit with 30 runs coming off the final two overs.