Proteas to take Klaasen’s self-belief into series-defining third T20 against India

Heinrich Klaasen is not a regular member of the Proteas starting XI, and yet he had the confidence to go out and back himself in his matchwinning innings in the second T20 against India at the weekend. It is that same self-belief that South Africa will want to take into the third match in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday, with victory clinching the series for them.

Klaasen, who replaced the injured Quinton de Kock, came in at 29/3 after Bhuvneshwar Kumar had destroyed the top-order on a helpful pitch for seam bowling, and massacred the Indian attack in a superb 81 off 46 balls as the Proteas won by four wickets with 10 balls to spare in Cuttack.

“It was difficult and I struggled up front,” Klaasen said. “But then I decided that if I was going to get out then I would rather go out my way. So I decided to be positive and it was just one of those days when it came off.

“I said to Temba (Bavuma) that we needed to target the spinners because the seamers were getting up-and-down bounce. It’s a blessing to have this innings at this time of my career,” Klaasen, by no means a certainty for the Proteas T20 squad, said.

Read more: ‘Super-sub’ Klaasen leads Proteas to second T20 win against India

The Proteas have now travelled nearly 500km down the eastern Indian coastline to Visakhapatnam and her sweeping beaches on the Bay of Bengal. The Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy Cricket Stadium was not used in the last IPL and the most recent T20 International there was in February 2019 when Australia chased down 127 off the last ball of the match and with seven wickets down against India. Pacemen Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jasprit Bumrah were the most successful bowlers.

So the pitch for Tuesday’s game could be more like the one in Cuttack than the batting paradise in Delhi for the first game.

Mother Cricket has not turned her smile towards the spinners so far in this series, with another small ground being used on Tuesday, and Proteas captain Bavuma is banking on his pacemen to again stifle the Indian batting.

“It was a good day for us in Cuttack and it started with the bowling, the way we bowled up front was exactly what we wanted,” Bavuma said.

“We want to be ruthless with the new ball, hit those areas and try and get whatever we can out of the pitch. We were able to apply pressure throughout, which happens whenever wickets fall regularly.

“We have a series to win and our focus will be on the achievables we set ourselves in all these games,” Bavuma said.

Also read: Miller, Van der Dussen lead Proteas to thrilling win against India