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regular-article-logo Sunday, 26 May 2024

Heinrich Klaasen takes aerial route to success as he gets in beast mode against Mumbai Indians 

Sunrisers & Proteas stand to gain from six master's form

Our Special Correspondent Calcutta Published 29.03.24, 11:15 AM
Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Heinrich Klaasenafter completing hishalf-century, his second in two matches this season,on Wednesday

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Heinrich Klaasenafter completing hishalf-century, his second in two matches this season,on Wednesday PTI

Heinrich Klaasen was in beast mode against Mumbai Indians in Hyderabad but the most engrossing and enchanting memory from the match will be of his 14-month daughter Laya celebrating by waving the Sunrisers Hyderabad flag in the stands.

Sunrisers captain Pat Cummins described Klaasen’s six-hitting slugfest
as “insane”.

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The South African’s first four of the tournament came on Wednesday after he had faced 44 balls and hit 11 sixes. His 63 off 29 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders included eight sixes but no boundary.

Having threatened to take the match away from KKR at Eden Gardens, he literally ended Mumbai Indians’ chances with an unbeaten 80 off 34 balls that sent the record books into a tizzy.

Once Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma set the pace for the night, striking 18 and 16-ball half-centuries, respectively, Klaasen just put Hardik Pandya’s team out
of the contest.

Coming into Wednesday’s contest, Klaasen had the highest strike rate of 174.38 against spin in T20Is since January 2022 among batters who faced at least 500 balls.

Klaasen was never an in-the-zone player in his early days but after failing to emulate role models like AB de Villiers, he zeroed in on his preferred options. “You want to play all the shots but the genius behind guys like AB was knowing when to play them,” Klaasen once said. “For me, I explored a lot with it and it didn’t work.”

Being dropped from the South African white ball team in 2021 came as a wake-up call. He worked on his game with his domestic team, the Titans, at SuperSport Park and was ready for the challenge. He remodelled his approach and changed his instinct to go hard from the first ball.

He was recalled to the national team in mid-2022 and has since been in good nick.

He had an eventful 50-over World Cup last year which included a century — 109 off 67 balls against England — and a 90 off 49 balls underlined his prowess on subcontinent wickets.

He has been in his elements this year, including the SA20, where he finished as second highest run-getter — 447 in 13 matches at a strike-rate of 207.9 for Durban’s Super Giants.

The current Orange Cap holder’s brutal power has brightened Sunrisers’ chances in this edition of the IPL. South Africa too will be looking up to Klaasen’s Midas touch for an impact-making T20 World Cup in June.

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