FEATUREHeinrich’s a Klaas apart as Proteas level the ODI series by admin September 17, 2023 written by admin September 17, 2023 Bookmark 1 15 September 2023 – 20:14 By Stuart Hess at SuperSport Park Support independent journalism. Subscribe to our digital news package for R80 p/m. Heinrich Klaasen smashed the fourth fastest ODI century by a South African at SuperSport Park on Friday. Image: Siphiwe Sibeko/ Reuters Heinrich Klaasen was in a world of his own. He’s not the type to say “bowl what you want”, but through every swing of his pink stickered bat, that’s exactly the message he was sending to the Australian bowlers. Josh Hazlewood, currently the No.1 ranked bowler in the ODI format, would bowl a wide yorker — Klaasen would open the face of his blade and carve the ball over point for six. Hazlewood reckoned Klaasen couldn’t do that again, so bowled the same ball a short while later and the result was another six. Bowl short, and Klaasen pulled with ferocity, pitch the ball up, and he crunched it straight down the ground. Some balls were exquisitely timed, others were brutally muscled, some shots — like those straight drives — were from the MCC textbook, a few others were others were drawn from the new age of batting, driven by the impact of the T20 format in which Klaasen this year has been so proficient. The 32-year-old has spent 2023 making merry in T20 leagues around the world, starting with SA20, in which he scored a century at SuperSport Park, he did the same in the IPL and in the new Major League Cricket competition. In between there was a 54-ball century against the West Indies in March. While Klaasen has talked of a technical change earlier this year, it’s really been a more liberated approach mentally that has led to his stunning run of form. Klaasen no longer bats, fearing he’ll be dropped. The clear communication from both Proteas coaches — Shukri Conrad and Rob Walter — that players would be given more than one chance to fail, has freed up Klaasen. There is a clarity about his game plan that is allied to the purity of his striking, which on Friday had his home crowd enraptured. South Africa were put in to bat by Mitchell Marsh and their start was cautious. Quinton de Kock (45), Reeza Hendricks (28) — in as a replacement for the injured Temba Bavuma and Aiden Markram (8), captaining in Bavuma’s absence — all struggled to come to terms with the pace of the pitch. It was the same for Rassie van der Dussen, who took some time to get to grips with the surface but then notched up an important half-century, his first in nine matches. By the second half of his innings Van der Dussen was starting to get the Proteas’ run rate to go in the right direction, then the carnage ensued. Klaasen laid into the Australians, starting with leg-spinner Adam Zampa, whose rhythm was off kilter. Poor Zampa went straight out of the ground on plenty of occasions and straight into the record books too, matching his countryman Mick Lewis — from the ‘438 game’ — for the worst figures in a full 10 over spell when he conceded 113 runs.Klaasen in combination with David Miller, accelerated the scoring in the manner Max Verstappen does his F1 car. From 243/4 after 40 overs, the Proteas scored at 17 runs an over in the last 10 overs of the innings, to go past a total of 400 for the seventh time, finishing on 416/5. The fifth wicket partnership, worth 222 runs, came at a rate of 14.47, the fastest for a double century stand in an ODI. Miller, happy to play second fiddle when he arrived at the crease, then had his turn, eventually finishing on 82 not out off only 45 balls. Klaasen fell to the last ball of the innings for an astonishing 174 — the eighth highest score by a Proteas batter in ODIs — his destructive hitting illustrated by how, having taken 38 balls to reach 50, he needed just 19 deliveries to bring up his third century. Klaasen hammered 13 sixes and the same number of fours, and then let the applause of a frenzied crowd wash over him as his made his way up the Pavilion staircase into a happy dressing room. The Proteas bowlers capped off a darn good day with Lungi Ngidi producing his best performance of the season so far to take four wickets as the hosts claimed a series-tying 164-run victory. READ MORE Support independent journalism. 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