Mumbai: Heinrich Klaasen has been having a brilliant year so far with two centuries, 119 against the West Indies and 174 against Australia.
On Saturday, he struck his third ODI hundred of the year an incredible 67-ball 109 that took the game from England and set up South Africa’s 229-run victory in Match 20 of the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 at the Wankhede Stadium here on Saturday.
Klaasen said he would rate this as one of his better hundreds purely based on the conditions he played in.
“Yeah, it ranks up to one of my better hundreds purely on the conditions that were out there. I really had to dig deep mentally. Physically I was not in a good space but mentally I had to dig very deep there,” Klaasen said in the post-match press conference after his 109-run knock helped South Africa post 399/7 in 50 overs. They came back to restrict England’s innings to 170 in 22 overs and registered one of their memorable victories.
Klaasen said after South Africa’s defeat to the Netherlands in their previous match a lot of people had tagged (them as chokers) but his team has played some good cricket overall and therefore Saturday’s performance against England was no surprise to him
“Our World Cup performances, everyone obviously has got their tag over us but we’ve played some good cricket in the World Cup. We’ve been unlucky and obviously, we didn’t execute on certain games. But if you go look at the games that we’ve played, we’ve played some very, very good cricket in the World Cup. So, it’s not a surprise that we’re playing good cricket.
“We’ve been playing, especially this group has been playing good cricket for the last three years now. And we’ve been maturing nicely over the last three years. And it’s our time to really try to make a big statement for the world that South Africans are very good under pressure. We’ve done it before, and it’s unfortunate that there wasn’t as much luck because you need some luck as well,” said Klaasen.
Klaasen said he and Jansen had given themselves two overs to explode into action as South Africa had reached a decent position and had 13 overs left to take them to a massive score.
“Yes, we were about two overs out myself and Jansen – two overs before we would have pulled the trigger anyways and then obviously the back-to-back wickets that we’ve lost kept him in the game and then Marco has been working extremely hard on his batting and he’s taking a lot of pride in his death hitting as well.
“He’s been disappointed on a couple of the innings that he didn’t really pull through. So, I’m so chuffed and happy for him that the way he executed today and his intensity was a little bit low when we started off but that wasn’t an issue for us because we just needed to rebuild for four or five overs and I told him if we just hang on, we’ve got seven overs off of breaking them and the way he struck the ball today and like I said he told me he’s got me today and that’s the best I’ve seen him hit a cricket ball in a very long time,” he added.
Klaasen said batting was very difficult in the hot and humid conditions on Saturday.
“It’s like just breathing in hot air and every time you try to run it’s just sapping more and more energy and then at the end of the day your body just doesn’t want to work with you anymore. So, it’s just like almost running in a sauna for the whole innings which is what we obviously prep for and we’re used to these conditions but it still takes a lot out of the body.
He said chatting to his family and the honour of playing for his country kept him going.
“I’ve got a family that’s upstairs. So, obviously, chatting to them helped me through a little bit of those moments. And obviously, it’s an honour for us to play for our country. And Marco also played a big part in that. He told me today that he’s got me and that I’m not allowed to walk off the field if I don’t score 100. And I told him, but I can’t run and he said, it’s fine, just give me 100% every time you face the ball,” he added.