Heinrich Klaasen came of age as an international cricketer with a magnificent assault on the Indian bowlers as he helped guide the Proteas to a timely six-wicket victory in the second T20 in Centurion on Wednesday night.
The series is now tied at one-all going into Saturday’s decider at Newlands.
The 26-year-old Titans keeper-batsman smashed a career-best 69 off just 30 balls in the type of performance that puts tremendous pressure on Quinton de Kock, who’s poor form puts him in danger for the upcoming Test series against Australia.
Faced with the stiff task of chasing 189, Klaasen provided South Africa with their required momentum.
He was attacking from the start, his first three boundaries all being sixes.
But it was his absolute disdain for Yuzvendra Chahal, India’s leg-spinner and the Proteas’ tormentor in the ODI series, that was a highlight.
Klaasen targeted the on-side and stayed outside leg stump in general to give himself room to exploit the wrist spinner’s line.
It worked a treat as he whacked Chahal for no less than five sixes.
Nothing though will beat his switch-hit over the ropes, an incredible piece of skill where he changed his grip like lighting and worked a fuller ball square on the off-side.
In all, Klaasen hit seven sixes and three fours and was mainly responsible for Chahal conceding a massive 64 runs in his four-over spell.
It must be said though that the damp conditions didn’t make life easy for him.
JP Duminy’s contribution shouldn’t be forgotten.
Despite not always being the fluent, the Proteas’ stand-in skipper played the type of gritty innings people wish he’d play more often.
He was excellent as an anchor before finishing the game with a flourish – two consecutive sixes.
Duminy’s unbeaten 64 off 40 was well deserved.
Earlier, the Proteas wasted a sound platform with the ball after reducing India to 45/3 in the sixth over.
That was pretty much down to the nippy Junior Dala, who trapped Rohit Sharma in front with an excellent delivery that seamed back before he produced a ripper to the in-form Virat Kohli, who could do nothing but fend a sharp, rising ball to Klaasen behind the stumps.
The Titans quick finished with creditable figures of 2/28 but support was sorely lacking as Manish Pandey (79 off 48) and MS Dhoni (52 off 28) showed their class to set a stiff target.