Klaasen lauds SA for ‘grafting and adapting to conditions’

South Africa

Heinrich Klaasen believes that South Africa are battle-hardened for the business end of the T20 World Cup 2024 after winning a series of “scrappy games” in the early weeks of the competition.

In the group stages, South Africa scraped past Sri Lanka and Netherlands in nervy run chases before defending scores of 113 and 115 against Bangladesh and Nepal respectively. Wednesday’s 18-run win over USA in Antigua was their most convincing victory so far, but was still a tight game.

Their total of 194 for 4 – underpinned by Quinton de Kock’s innings of 74 off 40 balls – was, by a distance, their highest of the World Cup. Klaasen, who made 36 not out off 22 at the death, said they had enjoyed the opportunity to play on “a proper wicket” after such tough batting conditions in the early stages.

“I thought we had a par total,” Klaasen said. “Our bowlers got put a little bit under the pump at the back end of the game, so it was a good outing for the batters. The batters needed it more than the bowlers, guys getting their swings again. It was quite difficult in America and looking around the Caribbean, the wickets are getting better and better.

“We had four scrappy [group] games that we pulled through. It wasn’t pretty. Our bowlers bowled incredibly well in those five games now. The batters just [needed to] find a way to scrap and we had to adjust our gameplans a little bit. Hopefully, on better wickets, we can find our swings and be our natural selves. That’s the one positive that’s still out there for us to go find.

“But the rest of the way we’ve been playing, the way we’ve been grafting and adapting to conditions is brilliant and that shows the maturity in the group as well. We are obviously looking forward to that perfect game, but hopefully that will happen the longer the tournament goes on for us and find it when it really matters.”

South Africa face England in St Lucia on Friday morning (local time) where the games have been much high-scoring: England bossed the 181 chase against West Indies, Australia chased down 181 against Scotland, while Sri Lanka and West Indies both posted 200-plus totals against Netherlands and Afghanistan, respectively.

“The US part of the tournament has done the team a lot of good in my eyes,” Klaasen said. “We played high-pressure situations quite well and we took a lot of learning from it. On good wickets, the guys look like they’re keeping calm and they know their game plans.

“It’s all about execution and I don’t think against the US our death-hitting was particularly great. They bowled extremely well, and we are looking forward to finding our swings again. Hopefully, we can cash in against England… They’ve had an indifferent tournament with a lot of rain and rain-affected games but they’re an extremely dangerous side.

“They’ve got a lot of match-winners and we need to be aware of that and play our big moments better than what they do. But cricket is a funny game, like we saw this whole World Cup so far. Hopefully we can continue our train of playing good cricket under pressure and it’ll be fantastic if we as South Africa can go two out of two and hopefully close the spot for the semi-finals for ourselves.”

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