Playing “better” in subcontinent conditions is something South Africa have been working on, says batter Heinrich Klaasen, who feels the Proteas picked the correct game plan to counter Indian spinners in the first ODI.
In a spot of bother at 110 for 4, David Miller (75) and Klaasen (74) shared 139 runs for the unbroken fifth wicket to take the visitors to 249 for 4 in 40 overs in the rain-hit match on Thursday.
India came close but fell short by nine runs to trail 0-1 in the three-match series.
“The ball spun a lot. We have been working hard for the last couple of years to play better in these conditions. Our game plan was to sweep both ways and it worked tonight.
“Today we picked the right game plan. It spun quite a bit so we had to get the danger ball out of play, find a way to rotate the strike,” Klaasen said at the post-match press conference.
“It wasn’t easy for both sides upfront. We bowled extremely well. I think Quinny (Quinton de Kock) played an exceptional innings as well. He was very vital to get us to a good position when Miller and I came in.
“Our middle order is experienced enough and we knew we have to do the hard work, find a way to play in these conditions.We keep on reminding ourselves of our blueprint and the way we need to play in these conditions,” he added.
Klaasen feels Thursday’s knock was one of the best of his career.
“To score runs in these conditions and play such an innings, which I think was one of my better innings I have ever played in my life. I am very pleased. It’s been a good batting performance from the squad.”
The ongoing series is extremely crucial for South Africa to garner some valuable points in the ICC World Cup Super League. The Proteas are languishing at the 11th position on the table and run the risk of being knocked out of direct qualification for the marquee event next year in India.
But Klaasen said they are not thinking about the ODI showpiece just yet as their present focus is on the T20 World Cup which begins later this month in Australia.
“To qualify for next year’s World Cup is going to be really hard but we are definitely going to try. Our goal at this moment is the T20 World Cup coming up in couple of days time,” he said.
“We are not too worried about other things we can’t control at this moment. Every time we get on to the field wearing the South African jersey we want to win the game. We are just taking step by step, game by game at this moment.”
South Africa all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius was on Thursday ruled out of the ongoing ODI series in India as well as the T20 World Cup due to a fractured left thumb.
“It’s a big loss. This morning we only found out the severity of the injury. We thought it was just a little thumb injury. It’s emotional, we have been through a lot. I am gutted for the guy. It’s a massive loss for us,” Klaasen signed off.
The second ODI of the series will be played in Ranchi on Sunday.