Heinrich Klaasen: From TV watching PinkDay to playing in pink

Heinrich Klaasen claimed the Man-of-the-Match award for the Proteas. Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images.

Heinrich Klaasen claimed the Man-of-the-Match award for the Proteas. Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images.

The Proteas’ new wicketkeeping hero settles his nerves with a match-winning innings against India at the Wanderers.

It’s not so much the cost of the tickets as the demand for them, but a fortnight ago Heinrich Klaasen had told his girlfriend they could not go to PinkDay at the Wanderers when South Africa took on India in the fourth ODI.

Tickets for the most popular fixture in South African cricket were sold out three weeks ago, but little did Klaasen know that he would be in the thick of the action on the Saturday, out in the middle, winning the game for the Proteas and keeping their hopes of at least sharing the series alive.

India frittered away a great platform provided by Shikhar Dhawan (109) and Virat Kohli (75) to finish on 289 for seven thanks to a superb last 15 overs in the field by the Proteas after a delay for lightning.

The rain then arrived when South Africa were 43 for one in 7.2 overs, and it certainly disadvantaged the tourists, who had won the toss, when the target was reduced to 202 in 28 overs. The wet ball also denied the spinners much grip.

But South Africa were still busy making a mess of their run-chase despite all these serendipitous circumstances as they slipped to 102 for four in the 17th over.

Klaasen had been at the wicket for just four balls when David Miller was dropped by Shreyas Iyer at deep backward square-leg off Yuzvendra Chahal, who then bowled the left-hander three balls later, but with a no-ball.

Those moments cost India dearly as Miller raced to 39 off 28 balls and Klaasen produced the matchwinning innings of 43 not out off 27 balls in just his second match for the Proteas after replacing the injured Quinton de Kock.

“It was an unbelievable experience, I’ve always dreamt about playing in the PinkDay and two weeks ago I said to my missy that I can’t get tickets for PinkDay! The atmosphere was ballistic and this will be a massive confidence boost to get the first win under the belt, it’s really lifted the spirits and our belief. We’re proud to keep our record clean on this special occasion.

“It’s also given me a world of confidence just to get that first good knock out of the way, to settle my nerves. It feels better than scoring a hundred to win a game for your country, especially after being quite disappointed with my debut. David and I knew we could get 12 an over at the Wanderers because the ball really flies here,” Klaasen said after the five-wicket win with 15 balls to spare.

The victory was not as comfortable as it sounds because Andile Phehlukwayo blazed 23 not out off five balls in an extraordinary cameo, a knock which Klaasen described as taking all the pressure off him.

“Andile can certainly hit the ball quite far, even though he said he mistimed a couple! I just told him to keep his shape, get that front leg coming straight down the pitch, and it was a valuable knock, it took all the pressure off me. He’s done it a couple of times now.

“David was also so cool and calm and those let-offs in the Chahal over were definitely the momentum-changer. After that we said anything in the slot we must back ourselves to hit, we got a couple of boundaries and then we were just very calculated. He’s one of the best finishers in the world and the best place to learn is at the other end of the wicket,” Klaasen said.

The 26-year-old wicketkeeper/batsman also described the effort of the bowlers in limiting India to 289 after they were 200 for two in 34.2 overs when the storm arrived as “phenomenal”.

“That was a phenomenal last 16 overs and I thought the bowling was very good in Cape Town too. Our death bowling has really picked up, Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada have been very good, which is good for South African cricket.

“India were looking at 340 at one stage, so all credit to the bowlers for keeping us alive in the series,” Klaasen said.


Proteas stay unbeaten in pink as new heroes emerge

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12 January 2019 TURFFONTEIN

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