Heinrich Klaasen batted for nearly a couple of hours - battling hot and humid conditions - and eventually went on to score his fourth century in ODI cricket.
However, it wasn’t easy. As much as he dominated the England bowlers in South Africa’s marquee World Cup fixture at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday, Klaasen looked quite knackered at the end, with the temperature soaring up to 35 degrees.
“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,” Klaasen said.
”It’s just like almost running in a sauna for the whole innings which is what we obviously prepared for and we’re used to these conditions but it still takes a lot out of the body…”
Klaasen and Marco Jansen’s blitzkrieg in the last 10 overs meant South Africa put on 399 for seven, the highest ever ODI total against England and the second-highest at the venue. But for that to happen, Klaasen had ‘to dig really, really deep there.’ He did not have any energy left.
“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’,” Klaasen said with a smile.
“It’s still a privilege to play for our country especially in a moment like this, after a bad loss against the Netherlands, you gotta dig deep for your country as well. So yeah, I’ve worked my whole life for it, so it’s a great moment…”
This was the third ODI century of the year for Klaasen. “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,” he said.
“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 our games that we’ve played, we’ve played some very, very good cricket.
“So, it’s not a surprise that we’re playing good cricket. 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,” Klaassen said.
South Africa’s senior men’s team has never won an ODI World Cup and this time around, things look promising.
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