Followed by Rassie Van der Dussen’s suit, comeback man Heinrich Klaasen proved to be an unlikely hero with a career-best 81 as South Africa again outsmarted India by four wickets on a tricky pitch to take a 2- 0 lead in the five-game T20I series here on Sunday.
On a two-speed course where most batters struggled, Klaasen made it look ridiculously easy when he hit seven fours and five towering sixes in his 46-ball knock to help his team beat a 149-goal with 10 balls left. .
The wicketkeeper batter, who had been taken off the wing as a force substitution for the injured Quinton de Kock, completed his fourth T20I fifty in 32 balls before hitting three sixes on Yuzvendra Chahal to virtually end the chase.
To top it off with a six, he fell victim to Harshal Patel and in the next sent over Bhuvneshwar Kumar Wayne Parnell to finish with a stunning 4-0-13-4.
But it wasn’t enough as they needed just three runs from the last two overs and in-form David Miller (20 not out) rounded out the win to give the Proteas an impressive 2-0 lead at the Vizag T20I on 14th of June.
The visitors are aiming for their first-ever bilateral win in the T20 series in India.
Klaasen made a comeback after more than seven months, never taking his foot off the pedal and getting his team out of the woods after Bhuvneshwar reduced them to 29/3 in the power playovers.
Klaasen first shared a match-turning 64 run partnership of 41 balls with skipper Temba Bavuma (35) before in-form David Miller joined him in the middle.
Rishabh Pant-led India defended a modest 149 and got off to a great start thanks to the triple strike of ‘Swing King’ Bhuvneshwar in consecutive overs.
Bhuvneshwar, who looked out of place in the Kotla T20I, was back in his element as he swung the ball in sharply to clear Reeza Hendricks in his first over.
He then knuckled Dwaine Pretorius off the field before casting off the in-form Rassie van der Dussen (1).
Previously, Indian batters had a hard time coming up against a tight bowling show from South Africa only to be limited to a modest 148 for 6.
Shreyas Iyer (40) was the leading scorer for India, while Ishan Kishan provided some early sparks (21-ball 34), but the hosts lost momentum in the middle-overs under difficult batting conditions.
That in-form finisher Dinesh Karthik was sent way down at number 7, behind Axar Patel, also made things difficult for Rishabh Pant-led India, who are trailing 0-1 in the series.
Karthik, the team-designated ‘finisher’ (30 not from 21 balls) hit two sixes and two fours to give the total a semblance of respectability.
Harshal Patel (12 not out of nine balls) gave him good company as the duo improved the Indian run rate by stitching together 36 runs from the last three overs to give them some respite.
Batting on a challenging course, the Indian batters struggled to block a narrow 45-run second wicket partnership between Kishan and Shreyas Iyer.
Kagiso Rabada opened the bowling and set the tone early on and immediately broke through in his first over.
He brilliantly set up Ruturaj Gaikwad (1) with a barrage of short balls before mixing a fuller one to cleverly trick the opener into a miserly spell 4-0-15-1 that contained 13 dot balls.
After the slow start, it was Kishan (34 from 21 balls) who provided the firepower in the power play and crushed Nortje for two sixes to improve their running speed.
Fresh off his fiery fifty in the Kotla T20I, Kishan relied on his pickup shots through the square leg area to hit three sixes and two fours.
But just as the duo looked to consolidate, Nortje won the battle against the Mumbai Indians’ small opener, keeping it short and offering pace as the lefthander this time mis-timed his hook to get caught on a deep square leg.