Klaasen’s classy ton guides Proteas to ODI victory over West Indies
Heinrich Klaasen smashed a sublime unbeaten 119 off 61 deliveries to help the Proteas beat West Indies by four wickets in Potchefstroom on Tuesday.
The Proteas fought back to secure a 1-1 One Day International (ODI) series draw against West Indies thanks to their four-wicket victory on Tuesday, inspired by a splendid 54-ball century by Heinrich Klaasen.
Chasing 261 to register their first victory in the series — after the first ODI was rained out and West Indies won the second by 48 runs — the home side were pegged back to 87 for four after 13 overs. But they cruised to the target with 20 overs remaining, thanks largely to Klaasen’s heroics.
West Indies looked like posting more than 300 when they reached 110 for one after 19 overs. But they lost six wickets for the addition of only 96 by the 40th over. From there they were always on the back foot.
Potchefstroom’s JB Marks Oval offered the bowlers extra bounce and movement off the surface. The variable movement was the undoing of opener Ryan Rickelton and first-drop Rassie van der Dussen, who both fell to short balls from Alzarri Joseph.
Klaasen, conversely, used the extra bounce to his advantage as he sprung on to any delivery that resembled a shorter length and pulled it in front of square for belligerent boundaries multiple times in his inspired knock.
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After Tony de Zorzi was trapped LBW by Akeal Hosein for 21 runs, Klaasen and David Miller put up a solid sixth-wicket partnership of 55 off 38 deliveries before the latter departed for a run-a-ball 17 — caught and bowled by Hosein.
That left Klaasen and Marco Jansen — who came in at seven — with 119 more runs to score between them to secure the victory for the Proteas.
And for a long period, they made it look extremely easy on a pitch that troubled the South African top order. The pair put on a dashing 103 runs off only 62 deliveries as they thrashed the Windies bowlers to all parts of the ground.
Jansen scored a career-best 43 off 33 deliveries before he gently lobbed a Joseph half-tracker to Shamarh Brooks at backward point. It was a disappointing end to an exciting innings by the young all-rounder. Jansen struck five fours and two lusty sixes in his thrilling innings.
Klaasen continued striking the ball lustily after Jansen departed, finishing the match with a sequence of six, four, four off the bowling of Yannic Cariah.
Klaasen finished unbeaten on 119 off 61 deliveries at a strike rate of 195. The powerful right-hander walloped 15 fours and five sixes in his knock — the fourth-fastest century by a South African in ODIs.
“It’s just one of those days where the first couple went into the gap,” said Klaasen modestly to the media after his innings.
“We’re trying to play the conditions and not the situations and the conditions today were fantastic to bat on. I felt like I got a couple of loose deliveries that I capitalised on; that set my tempo for the innings.
“There wasn’t pressure when I got in to chase any big run rate. When the conditions are good like that and you have to go at four-and-halves, fives [runs per over], you just have to bat through and play each ball on its own merit and that’s what I did today.”
Earlier in the day, South Africa took a long time to make use of the bounce and movement the pitch offered.
Lungi Ngidi, in particular, was expensive throughout the day, as he erred on the fuller side. Brandon King was ruthless on anything full as the opener top-scored for the Windies with a run-a-ball 72.
But the big quick found the ideal shorter length eventually, as King played a Ngidi bumper on to his stumps.
Kyle Mayers (14) and Nicholas Pooran (39) fell for the same trap, trying to pull Marco Jansen — who naturally extracts extra bounce — but both were wonderfully pouched by Ngidi.
Outside of King, the Windies’ contributions with the bat were few and far between, with Aiden Markram pulling the strings excellently as captain — Temba Bavuma was ruled out of the fixture with a tight hamstring after Sunday’s second ODI.
Markram brought himself on and the off-break bowler did an excellent job, going for only 30 runs in his 10-over spell.
Jason Holder (36) tried his best to play a few lusty blows toward the back end of the innings, but his aggressive approach led to his dismissal as he ran past a Markram delivery.
Every South African bowler was in the wickets column. Ngidi, Wayne Parnell and Markram each picked up one, while Jansen, Bjorn Fortuin and Gerald Coetzee picked up two each.
Parnell picked up the final wicket of Odean Smith for 17 as the West Indies were skittled out for 260 in 48.2 overs.
South Africa scored 264 runs in only 29.3 overs, at a run rate of nearly nine runs to the over.
For a side that were 87 for four at one stage and at risk of being bowled out, that is a seriously impressive achievement.
“Today, for me watching from the side, it was a watershed moment for us as a team. We’ve been speaking and speaking about how we’d like to play,” said regular ODI skipper Bavuma after the match.
“There have been moments before today but when [Klaasen] goes and plays like that, it really builds that belief and confidence and I hope it also builds the trust and belief from people watching us as a team.”
Klaasen reiterated the words of his captain and acknowledged that the “positive cricket” the Proteas are striving to play in ODI cricket won’t always come off.
“In difficult situations, we still want to encourage players to play the [positive] brand of cricket. If it comes off, brilliant; if it doesn’t come off, as long as it stays in your options we can move on from there,” said the player of the match.
“We’re trying to push for a certain brand of cricket and let the players play their natural brand. As long as it’s in your options — the execution, we’re human beings, so sometimes it will go your way and sometimes not.
“We’re focusing on our brand of cricket and that’s to play positive cricket. If it’s your option and it comes off on the day, great. If it’s not your day but it’s still your option, great as well.” DM