Heinrich Klaasen, the South African wicketkeeper-batsman and hero of the latest ‘Pink ODI’ match between the hosts South Africa and India, was very surprised by India’s decision to not go with their prime pacers in the death overs.
Despite having quotas for the death over specialist pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, Indian skipper Virat Kohli went with the wrist-spinners duo Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav at the death overs.
However, Kohli’s decision not helped his team to win that match and the hosts South Africa won that match by 5 wickets with 15 balls to spare (207/5 in 25.3 overs).
Klassen said, “I was very surprised. David (Miller) and I thought they would have kept them (the pacers) at back for two overs each. But I think how this series went that led them to bowl their spinners for the remaining of the overs. But I was very surprised about it.”
However, Indian wrist-spinners duo bowled very well in the first three ODIs of the series as they literally paralyzed the South African batting line-up in the middle overs. But in the fourth ODI, which was known as a ‘Pink ODI’ too, that decision was backfired as they conceded a lot of runs.
Klassen talked about the problem which they were facing against the Indian wrist-spinners in the ongoing ODI series. He said, “I wouldn’t say (we have solved the spin riddle). The problem at beginning of series was that we didn’t pick the chinaman (Yadav). That obviously makes the difference not to be able to score against him.
“No one really struggled to pick Chahal but he seemed to pick up a lot of the wickets. We struggled to pick up the chinaman’s variations. But we did a lot of homework on him over the last 2-3 days and that seemed to work today.”
Following the first ODI, 26-year old Heinrich Klaasen was selected as a reserve wicket-keeper for this ongoing ODI series. But, he got a lucky chance after South African’s prime wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock ruled out from the remaining ongoing limited-over series. Klassen made an ODI debut in the third ODI of the series and became an important part for winning in the fourth ODI which helped the hosts to keep alive the six-match ODI series.
In the ‘Pink ODI’, Klassen played a match-winning unbeaten knock of 43 runs off just 27 deliveries as South Africa successfully chased down their revised 202-runs target (in 28 overs) with 15 balls to spare.
Klaasen stated that this victory will work as a massive confidence booster for them. He commented, “This is a massive confidence booster for us. We didn’t have the confidence earlier, but it has lifted our spirits. It has given belief in the dressing room.”
Klaasen also talked about AB de Villiers comeback in the squad. He claimed, “It is also nice to have AB de Villiers back again. The environment changes when he comes back. He is a huge influence in the change room.
Klaasen said that he was confident to win this match when he was batting with David Miller. The right-handed wicketkeeper-batsman said, “I knew between myself and David, we could let that run-rate go up till about probably 12-13, especially at the Wanderers where the ball tends to fly quite a bit.”
South African middle-order batsman David Miller survived at the early stage when he was bowled out for just 7 runs on a Chahal’s no-ball. Klaasen described that incident as a momentum changer of the game. He said, “It was definitely a momentum changer for us, getting that free hit on David’s wicket. He’s a cool, calm and experienced cricketer.”
When Miller was dismissed, South Africa still needed 28 runs off 26 balls, but Klaasen was confident to take that in the favour. Then, Andile Phehlukwayo finished the match with stormy style as he remained unbeaten on 23 runs off just 5 balls. In his tiny stormy innings, Phehlukwayo hit one four and three sixes.
Klaasen said, “I didn’t think we were over the line (when Miller got out), but I was still calm. I’ve done it a lot. I mean 28 off 26 – the batting side should win 99 percent of the time. You need to keep that cool and calm composure and luckily Andile (Phehlukwayo) took all that pressure off me with some big hits.”
In his debutant ODI, Klaasen was dismissed by Chahal for just 6 runs. He was disappointed with his dismissal in that game. He said, “I was quite disappointed in my debut game. I enjoy playing against spinners. Sure I do get out a lot against them but I do enjoy playing against them. It’s a good challenge. The way I got out in my debut game was tough. That was a soft dismissal, and I didn’t like it.”
However, Klaasen is now happy to recover quickly. He said, “But to put in a performance like today, to take that second opportunity obviously boosts my confidence a lot. I needed to recover quickly as well. This knock will do a world of confidence for me.”
In the Pink ODI, India decided to bat first after winning the toss. South Africa restricted the visitors for 289/7 at the end of 50 overs while once India was likely to cross easily the 300-runs mark. But South Africa’s brilliant death bowling denied Indian team to succeed on their batting strategy.
Klaasen credited the death bowling team-mates for making an important impact to keep the series alive. He said, “That was a phenomenal 16 overs. I thought our death bowling in Cape Town was also very good. That’s a good thing to see that our death bowling is picking up. Morrie (Chris Morris) and KG (Kagiso Rabada) are bowling very well. I think India were looking at 340 at some stage, so all credit needs to go to the bowlers to restrict them and get us back into the series.”