South Africa's newest swashbuckler Heinrich Klaasen has credited Jean-Paul Duminy for "taking the fear out" of his game, saying the skipper's presence was a key factor in his match-winning knock against India in the second T20I at Centurion.
Klaasen smashed 69 off 30 balls as the Proteas won by six wickets last night to level the three-match series 1-1. The big-hitting batsman said that Duminy, who put on 97 runs off 49 balls for the third wicket with Klaasen, told him to go big.
"Duminy was the key factor to my whole innings. Second over or the first over I faced, he told me this over needs to go for 10. He told me to just play my normal game and take the bowlers on. Luckily today it worked out," said Klaasen.
"The way JP told me to go, this over needs to go for 20, it takes all the fear out of your game. Then it is very important to keep a calm head. There was a stage when I was swinging quite hard," he added.
"They (the Indians) are very skilful bowlers. So it is not easy to get a run a ball, he added.
It was the fastest half-century in T20I cricket by a South African batsman, not only against India but also at Centurion. The knock was made more special for Klaasen by the fact that he got it on his home ground.
Klaasen said his innings was better than the Wanderers cameo wherein rain and a truncated game also provided a T20-like situation for him to chase the total down.
"This one definitely wins - my home ground. It's something you dream about as a young kid, to play for your country on your home ground, and to win a game for your country. This one takes the cherry on the cake," said Klaasen.
"In the first five or six overs, we actually tried to keep up with Duckworth-Lewis. Luckily on the fifth or the sixth over, the drizzle stopped. I said to JP, we can now actually stay one boundary under the DL target, and it worked out," he added.
The constant drizzle helped ease out conditions as the pitch had proven slow earlier on. Even so, it is a nature of day-night games at Supersport Park that the side batting second has an advantage, as Klaasen pointed out.
"I think it is massively due to the dew that falls at night that changes the wicket completely," he said.
"I think the way we actually batted tonight, it's a good way to chase a total. Keep up with the rate and keep up with Duckworth-Lewis. That just gave us small targets. When to go, when not to go, it is about setting small targets and it is maybe something to think about going forward," he added.
Talking about soaking the pressure, the keeper-batsman said, "That's great fun. But in that moment you don't usually think how fun it is. Next ball you think where it is going, so need to figure a couple of plans and areas where to hit, try to figure out where he is going to bowl to."
Klaasen has progressed quickly in international cricket after he was called up to the ODI squad in Quinton de Kock's absence owing to injury. It has been down to two match-winning knocks from him that South Africa have beaten India twice in eight matches during this limited-overs' leg of the tour.
However, Klaasen opined that de Kock doesn't have to look over his shoulder just yet. No, not at all, he said, about replacing de Kock. "I think he is a world-class player. And our change room definitely misses him, especially top of the order. I don't think he has anything to worry about yet."
If you look at Quinny, AB (de Villiers) and Faf (du Plessis) and with Temba (Bavuma) coming back as well, they are world-class players. So, in some sort, to put my name in that list as well, it is definitely a very important stage of my career to put myself on the map or in this setup," he added.
The finale will be played at Newlands on Saturday, with the series pegged at 1-1.
"There is a massive gap between international cricket and our domestic cricket. I know on Saturday, India will come up with new plans and the education will be good as well. On Saturday, I need to see what their plans are and see if I can counter it," Klaasen signed off.
(With PTI Inputs)