The resurgence of Heinrich Klaasen through the ODI series against Australia bodes well for the Proteas’ limited-overs prospects.
Klaasen benefitted a great deal from excellent support, but was the standout performer in the series.
At his best, Klaasen is a dangerous player to have lurking in the dressing room and his ability to clear the fence makes him a great finisher. Klaasen also showed that he could play a long innings in a big chase in the series opener.
Klaasen burst onto the international scene with a bang against India in 2018, but that initial promise was stunted by injury. After playing 12 ODIs in 2018, he featured just twice in the format in 2019, and his only innings was a first-ball duck against Pakistan at Kingsmead.
Before the series against Australia, Klaasen had scored just one ODI half-ton. Starting with a maiden century in Paarl, Klaasen passed 50 each time he walked out against Aaron Finch’s men. A series average of 242.00 has lifted his career stats considerably, but Klaasen will be hoping he can sustain his performance.
A nightmare to bowl to because of his abundant scoring options and incredible hitting power, Klaasen is seen by some as a T20I specialist, but he has all the makings of a multi-format player.
At 28 years old, Klaasen is moving into what should be the golden years of his career, well placed to make a place in the starting XI his own in limited-overs cricket.
The tour to India will give Klaasen a chance to banish the ghosts of two underwhelming stints in the Indian Premier League. The aggressive middle-order batsman will also have an opportunity to renew his rivalry with India leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. Klaasen took Chahal apart in an incredible run chase in the second T20I of the 2018 series against India.
An in-form Klaasen will relieve the pressure on both Quinton de Kock at the top of the order as well as veteran finisher David Miller.
His performances coupled with strong showings for Kyle Verreynne should light a fire under former skipper Faf du Plessis, who will have to prove his form in a battle with the young bucks as the Proteas hit the road.
Mark Boucher was able to extract the best out of him at the Titans, and it seems as though Klaasen will blossom under his guidance in the Proteas set-up.
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