Powered by Heinrich Klaasen’s incredible 81
off 46 deliveries, South Africa produced another clinical performance in the
2nd T20I in Cuttack to take a 2-0 lead in the series over India. Coming in as a
last-minute replacement for Quinton de Kock, Klaasen hit seven fours and five
sixes to help the Proteas overcome a rocky start in the powerplay and cruise
home in their run chase of 149 with ten balls to spare.
After India limped to 148 for six in the
first innings, Bhuvneshwar Kumar blew the game open with his masterful spell of
new-ball bowling. The seamer began the proceedings with a brilliant inswinger
to remove Reeza Hendricks before expertly out-foxing Dwaine Pretorius with a
knuckle ball. Pant persisted with his lead bowler for a third over inside the
powerplay, and Bhuvneshwar responded, producing another nip-backer to dismiss
Rassie van der Dussen and reduce the Proteas to 29 for three in six overs.
However, apart from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, none
of the other Indian bowlers enjoyed the same success on a two-paced Cuttack
wicket and were all taken to the cleaners by some majestic stroke-play from
Heinrich Klaasen. The wicketkeeper began his counterattack with an inside-out
shot over extra cover for four against Yuzvendra Chahal before smashing Hardik
Pandya for two boundaries.
Klaasen took 19 runs in the 12th over
bowled by Axar Patel and continued to torch the Indian spinners throughout the
night, scoring an incredible 48 runs in the 18 balls he faced from Axar and
Chahal in the innings. Klaasen finished with a T20 career-high score of 81 from
46 and was well supported by Temba Bavuma (35 off 30) and David Miller (20* off
15) as South Africa waltzed home to win by four wickets.
Earlier, India suffered a similarly poor
start to the powerplay as Ruturaj Gaikwad gently chipped Kagiso Rabada to point
in the first over of the innings. Ishan Kishan hits two sixes in an over
against Anrich Nortje and continued to pepper the leg-side boundary throughout
the powerplay but was undone by a sharp bouncer from the DC speedster in the
seventh over on 34. The South African seamers used the two-pace nature of the
track to their advantage, bowling plenty of cutters and slower balls to
restrict the Indian middle-order.
After Rishabh Pant holed out in the deep
against Keshav Maharaj, India managed just three boundaries between overs 10-17
and were left reeling at 112 for six. It was only until Dinesh Karthik got
going in the final two overs of the innings did the Indian fans have something
to cheer. The veteran wicketkeeper scored only nine runs off his first 16 balls
but struck four boundaries in the final eight balls of the innings to take the
Men in Blue to a more respectable score of 148. However, following Klaasen’s
heroics, it didn’t prove to be enough.