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Surprised India didn’t bowl Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Bumrah at the death: Heinrich Klaasen

Heinrich Klaasen, who had replaced injured Quinton de Kock in the South Africa cricket team for the fourth ODI (Pink ODI), used audacious stroked to disturb the line of the Indian cricket team spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.

cricket Updated: Feb 11, 2018 13:08 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Johannesburg
South Africa vs India,SA vs IND,Pink ODI
South Africa cricket team's batsman Heinrich Klaasen (right) hits a boundary as India cricket team wicketkeeper MS Dhoni during the 4th ODI (Pink ODI) at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday. (AFP)

Heinrich Klaasen, the unlikely hero for South Africa cricket team Saturday night, said he was surprised India didn’t bowl pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah towards the end even as the spinners were getting clobbered. (SA vs IND 4th ODI highlights)

“I was very surprised. David (Miller) and I thought they would have kept them at the back-end for two overs each. But I think how this series went that led them to bowling their spinners for the remaining of the overs, but I was very surprised about it,” he said. (SA vs IND 4th ODI scorecard)

The wicketkeeper-batsman, who has replaced injured Quinton de Kock, played a blinder (47 off 27 balls), using audacious strokes to disturb the line of the spinners. While there were reverse sweeps, he went almost to the sixth or seventh stump outside off and pulled a wide delivery from Yuzvendra Chahal to square leg for four.

“That’s where the gaps were… that was my only boundary option. He bowled quite wide and got a lot of turn and bounce, that was my gutsy shot at that moment and I pulled it off,” said Klaasen, who added that the sweeps and reverse sweeps come naturally to him.

“It comes naturally to me, but I work hard on it. Three years ago we went to Sri Lanka on a National Academy trip. So there, we learned all types of sweeps. Since then, I’ve brought it back into my game and it works, it takes off a lot of pressure. Especially against good spinners, it’s difficult to hit them down the ground if you don’t use your feet well. So that just changed up their lengths and it suits me a little bit better.”

The 26-year-old said that while Chahal hadn’t worried SA much, it was Kuldeep Yadav’s bowling that was a bit of a bother. However, they worked on it.

“The problem at beginning of the series was that we didn’t pick the Chinaman. The leggie was, no one really struggled to pick him but he seemed to pick up a lot of wickets. We struggled to pick the Chinaman’s variations and we did a lot of homework on him over the last 2-3 days and that seemed to work today.”

Both Klaasen and David Miller snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. They added 72 in just under seven overs after the Proteas had lost their star player AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla, who was looking good.

“Between myself and David, we can let that run-rate go up till about probably 12-13, especially at the Wanderers where the ball tends to fly quite a bit. It was definitely a momentum changer for us, getting that free hit on David’s wicket. He’s a cool, calm and experienced cricketer and he just said, ‘Anything in our slot we need to back and whatever we do we need to do fully’. And then at the end of the over after a couple of boundaries, the value of David being there and myself being there at the start of the next over – it’s bigger than just having a slog at a couple of balls. So we were very calculated in our approach there. Maybe it didn’t look like it! But it was all calculated and planned out, what we wanted to do.”

Klaasen said that the Wanderers victory is a big confidence booster for the side.

“We didn’t have the confidence but just to get the first win has lifted the spirits in the change room and the belief in the change room. It is nice to have AB back again, the environment changed when he is back. He is a huge influence in the change room but to get to the first win on a special occasion like the Pink ODI means a lot to us and proud to keep the record clean.”

“I always dreamed about it (Pink ODI). I told Aiden now that two weeks ago, I told my ‘messy’ (girlfriend) I don’t have tickets to come to the Pink Day. The crowd was unbelievable and I’ve never experienced anything like that. Especially there were some stretches on the field when the crowd were just ballistic. I couldn’t hear any nicks or stuff like that. Unbelievable vibe.”

First Published: Feb 11, 2018 08:38 IST