Returning man Heinrich Klaasen followed the suit of Rassie Van der Dussen in proving an unlikely hero with a career-best 81 as South Africa once again thwarted India by four wickets on tricky ground to take a 2-0 lead in the Series T20I five-game at Cuttack’s Barabati Stadium on Sunday.
On a two-pace track where most hitters struggled, Klaasen made it ridiculously easy by smashing seven fours and five towering sixes in his towering 46-ball run to help his team reach a goal of 149 with 10 balls. to resell. The wicket-striker, who was included in the squad as a forced change for the injured Quinton de Kock, completed his fourth T20I fifty on 32 balls before smashing three sixes from Yuzvendra Chahal to virtually seal the chase.
Looking to finish with a six, he fell victim to Harshal Patel and in the very next, Bhuvneshwar Kumar brushed aside Wayne Parnell to finish with a stunning 4-0-13-4. But that wasn’t enough as they only needed three runs from the final two overs and the in-form David Miller (20 not out) completed the win to give the Proteas a 2-0 lead ahead of the Vizag T20I on June 14.
The visitors are seeking their first-ever bilateral victory in the T20 series in India. Making a comeback after more than seven months, Klaasen never took his foot off the pedal and pulled his team out of the woods after Bhuvneshwar pulled them to 29/3 inside overs on the power play.
Klaasen first shared a decisive 64-game partnership from 41 balls with skipper Temba Bavuma (35) before an in-form David Miller joined him in the middle.
Defending a modest 149, India led by Rishabh Pant got off to a superb start thanks to the triple hit of ‘Swing King’ Bhuvneshwar in successive overs.
Bhuvneshwar, who looked out of sorts in the Kotla T20I, was back in his element as he sharply returned the ball to clear Reeza Hendricks in his first over. He then dismissed Dwaine Pretorius with a punch before castling the in-form Rassie van der Dussen (1).
Previously, India’s batters struggled to get in against a tight bowling display from South Africa to limit themselves to a modest 148 for 6. Shreyas Iyer (40) was India’s top scorer while Ishan Kishan provided some early sparks (21-ball 34) but the hosts lost momentum mid-overs in difficult batting conditions.
That in-form finisher Dinesh Karthik sent to No.7, behind Axar Patel, also made it difficult for Rishabh Pant-led India, who trail 0-1 in the series. Karthik, the team’s designated “finisher” (30 steps on 21 balls) broke two sixes and two fours to give the total some semblance of respectability.
Harshal Patel (12 on nine) gave him good company as the pair improved India’s run rate by stitching up 36 runs from the final three overs to give them some breathing room. except a small 45-run second-wicket partnership between Kishan and Shreyas Iyer.
Opening the bowling, Kagiso Rabada set the tone from the start, providing a breakthrough from his first over. a stingy 4-0-15-1 spell that included 13 point balls.
After the quiet start, it was Kishan (34 from 21 balls) who provided the firepower in the power play, crushing Nortje for two sixes to improve his running pace. Fresh out of his fiery 50s in the Kotla T20I, Kishan relied on his pickup shots to the square leg area to hit three sixes and two fours.
But just as the pair were looking to consolidate, Nortje won the battle against the short Mumbai Indians flyhalf, throwing him short and providing pace as the southpaw mistimed his hook this time to be caught at the deep square leg.
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