India wilts under the Klaasen blitz on a tricky wicket

The South African, in the company of Bavuma, resurrects the innings from a precarious 29 for three before launching into the host attack

The South African, in the company of Bavuma, resurrects the innings from a precarious 29 for three before launching into the host attack

Wicketkeeper-batter Heinrich Klaasen excelled on a tricky pitch in humid conditions to make his career-best score and take South Africa to a four-wicket victory in the second T20I against India at the Barabati Stadium on Sunday.

Klaasen, who replaced the injured Quinton de Kock, hammered a 46-ball 81 with seven fours and five mighty sixes as South Africa recovered from 29 for three to chase down 149 with 10 balls to spare and take a 2-0 lead in the series.

Tight spot

After choosing to follow the successful template of the first match and restricting India to 148 for six, South Africa found itself in a tight spot.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar mixed his superb skills with immaculate precision to bowl three of the first six overs and claimed three top-order wickets to leave the visitors in big trouble in the PowerPlay.

The experienced Bhuvneshwar, who was used well by captain Rishabh Pant, moved the ball both ways and bowled Reeza Hendricks with an incoming delivery in the first over.

His slower delivery forced pinch-hitter Dwaine Pretorius to mistime a skier to deep mid-wicket in his second over. Bhuvneshwar then changed ends to breach Rassie van der Dussen’s defence in his third over.

South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma (35, 30b, 4×4, 1×6) took some calculated risks to break the shackles.

Klaasen, known for tormenting India in the past, relied on his clean-hitting and smart shot selection to revive the innings with Bavuma. He punished Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel as 13 runs came in the 11th over and 19 in the 12th.

Yuzvendra Chahal broke the 64-run stand when Bavuma failed to connect a pull shot. However, the well-built Klaasen continued to unleash his strokes and took his team close to the target before holing out off Harshal Patel.

Earlier, the South African bowlers adapted to the conditions well and executed their plan to perfection. Its pacers quickly gauged the two-paced track on which the odd ball kept low. They bowled as a unit and mixed the length and pace nicely. India lost opener Ruturaj Gaikwad to Kagiso Rabada in the first over.

Ishan Kishan (34, 21b, 2×4, 3×6) continued his good form, contributing 29 predominantly through sixes off pulls, as India made 42 in the PowerPlay.

Kishan, who was dropped on 28, could not build on his start as he pulled a short ball from Anrich Nortje to deep mid-wicket. Though Pant and vice-captain Hardik fell cheaply, Shreyas Iyer (40, 35b, 2×4, 2×6) worked the ball around and kept the scoreboard ticking before he was dismissed by Pretorius.

The experienced finisher, Dinesh Karthik (30 n.o., 21b, 2×4, 2×6), clubbed Nortje for two fours in the 19th over and Pretorius for two sixes in the final over which produced 18. It wasn’t enough once Klaasen got into the act.

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